Daily Archives: May 5, 2017

May 5, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 5, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

House Republicans mustered just enough votes to pass their health-care bill Thursday, salvaging what at times appeared to be a doomed mission to repeal and partially replace Obamacare under intense pressure from President Donald Trump to produce legislative accomplishments. The 217-213 vote sends the American Health Care Act to the Senate, where it has little chance of being passed in its current form by fellow Republicans spooked by reports the plan would cause millions to lose health insurance.

U.S. payroll gains rebounded in April by more than forecast and the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 4.4 percent, signaling that the labor market remains healthy and should support continued increases in consumer spending. The 211,000 increase followed a 79,000 advance in March that was lower than previously estimated,

OPEC’s plan to boost oil prices by cutting production has fizzled, yet it has little choice but to stick with it. Crude has surrendered all of its gains since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries first agreed production cuts in November.

Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as president will begin with a symbolic tour of sacred centers of the three major Abrahamic religions, with stops at the Vatican, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered an “emphatic” message to foreign ministers from Southeast Asian nations that militarization and construction in the South China Sea must stop while territorial disputes in the area are worked out, a senior U.S. official said.

Emboldened by the environmental rollbacks of President Donald Trump, state legislatures are following suit, taking aim at items as varied as solar incentives, chemical spill protections and, even, anti-pipeline protesters. The legislation in states from Florida to Wisconsin comes as the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump argues that it can curtail federal regulations, leaving it up to states to decide how to protect against pollution.

Corruption-battling cops in Ukraine are hitting obstacles in their quest to snare misbehaving officials. While a belated crackdown on graft is finally producing high-level arrests, many probes aren’t reaching court and suspects are often freed on bail against investigators’ wishes.

Several key Senate Republicans said they will set aside the narrowly passed House health-care bill and write their own version instead, a sign of how difficult it will be to deliver on seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare.

Ford Motor Co. has temporarily laid off 130 workers at its plant in Avon Lake, Ohio — jobs it had hoped to preserve by moving commercial pickup production there from Mexico in 2015.

AP Top Stories

An executive order by President Trump meant to reward religious conservatives for their support of him in last year’s election fell short of what many had hoped for and drew widespread criticism on Thursday.

North Korea on Friday accused the CIA of plotting with South Korea to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un, amid soaring tensions in the flashpoint region.

The most biologically diverse waterway in America is seriously ill. The Indian River Lagoon is repeatedly being choked by oxygen-robbing algae, its surface increasingly dotted with thousands of dead fish, manatees, birds and other creatures – and a study by the Associated Press discovered that the problem is getting worse.

Barack Obama unveiled the vision for his presidential library in Chicago, a modern, $500 million project he hopes will be a training ground for future leaders.

Ethiopia should rein in a controversial anti-terrorism law and release prisoners, the UN human rights chief said Thursday during a visit to Addis Ababa.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sent back fascinating images of Saturn’s atmosphere during its first dive between Saturn and its rings. It will complete its second dive this week.

The Pentagon will ask the White House next week to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to break a deadlocked fight with the Taliban. After a steady downsizing of US troop numbers since 2011, US military commanders say they need to strengthen the numbers on the ground to better support Afghan forces and help retake territory lost to the Taliban.

The owners of The Lion’s Gate Sanctuary in Colorado have come under fire for killing all 11 of its exotic animals, despite other rescue centers offering to rehome the three tigers, three lions and five bears.

Former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned to Kabul on Thursday after two decades in hiding, calling for peace with Taliban insurgents and criticizing the Western-backed government, which he said was not working.

BBC

North Korea has accused US and South Korean agents of plotting to kill its Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

A US soldier has been killed in Somalia during operations against al-Shabab militants. Two other US servicemen were injured in the incident, about 40 miles west of the capital Mogadishu.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told a conference in Italy on the EU that “English is losing importance in Europe”.

China’s first large domestically made passenger aircraft has completed its maiden flight, mounting a major challenge to Boeing and Airbus.

WND

One tattoo artist in Japan is going head-to-head with the authorities in a landmark trial that could change the tattooing industry in the country. His campaign, ‘Save Tattooing’, is trying to dredge up support for a practice historically associated with organized violent crime – and heavily frowned upon in Japan.

Gov. Kay Ivey today signed into law a bill allowing adoption agencies in Alabama to follow faith-based policies, such as not placing children with gay couples.


The Briefing 05-05-17

What will be the impact of President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty? Only time will tell.

Should posting a Bible verse be a fireable offense in the military?

Planning a protest? Berkeley Police Department offers “symbolic arrests” to protesting citizens

The post The Briefing 05-05-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/5/2017


Trump Says Abbas Will Sign Final Peace Deal
At a joint press conference after their meeting, President Trump speaks optimistically about the chances for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. (video)

Anne Graham Lotz Confesses 12 ‘National Sins’ of America at National Day of Prayer Observance
I was telling Sammy Rodriguez before this that it’s almost mind blowing that America has to have an executive order to guarantee religious liberty in America, which shows how far we have fallen from our foundation of faith in the living God.”

Obama speeches revive GOP bid to target his pension
As former President Barack Obama hits the speaking circuit, Republican lawmakers say they plan to reintroduce a bill that would directly target pensions for ex-presidents raking in more than $400,000 after leaving the Oval Office.

Pentagon eyes Iran-North Korea military connection
When Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a “midget” submarine earlier this week, Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korean influence in the Islamic Republic – with intelligence reports saying the submarine was based on a Pyongyang design, the same type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010.

Iraqi forces gain foothold in northwest Mosul after surprise new push
Iraqi forces pushed further into Mosul from the north on the second day of a new push to speed up the nearly seven-month attempt to dislodge Islamic State, commanders said on Friday.

US envoy holds Israeli-Palestinian parlay
United States special envoy Jason Greenblatt held a high-level meeting in Brussels with Israeli and Palestinian ministers on Thursday to discuss economic initiatives in the West Bank. The unusual gathering with Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and three Palestinian ministers took place on the sidelines of a session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which meets twice a year to determine donor funding for projects to help Palestinians in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Mahmoud Abbas lied to President Trump
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of lying when he visited the White House on Wednesday. “I heard President Abbas yesterday say that they teach their children peace,” Netanyahu said, quoting Abbas’s statement to the media made during a joint press event with US President Donald Trump. “That’s unfortunately not true,” said Netanyahu, who has embarked on a campaign to end payments by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists.

‘I love Australia’ Trump says as leaders meet after refugee row
Donald Trump called his relationship with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “fantastic” following a meeting in New York. It is their first encounter since an acrimonious phone call in February. “We get along great. We have a fantastic relationship, I love Australia, I always have,” the AFP news agency quoted Mr Trump as saying.

Syria government ‘producing chemical weapons at research facilities’
Syria’s government is continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 deal to eliminate them, a Western intelligence agency has told the BBC. A document says chemical and biological munitions are produced at three main sites near Damascus and Hama. It alleges that both Iran and Russia, the government’s allies, are aware.

Obamacare is ‘dead’ says Trump after healthcare victory
President Donald Trump has declared Obamacare “dead” after the Republican healthcare bill was narrowly passed by the lower chamber of Congress. The 217-213 vote marked his first legislative victory and goes some way to keeping a key campaign promise to roll back his predecessor’s law. Democrats say the American Health Care Act will leave millions uninsured. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Republicans have indicated they will cast it aside and write a new law.

ISIS to Jihadists: Use Fake Apartment, Job, Craigslist Ads to Lure Hostage, Murder Victims
The Islamic State magazine that has published tutorials on vehicle, knife and arson attacks as a tool of lone jihad is now encouraging terrorists to acquire guns at shows and shops and take hostages not for ransom but “to create as much carnage and terror as one possibly can.”

With maiden jet flight, China enters dog-fight with Boeing, Airbus
China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet completed its long-delayed maiden flight on Friday, a major first step for Beijing as it looks to raise its profile in the global aviation market and boost high-tech manufacturing at home. Under overcast skies, the white, green and blue aircraft, with “C919” emblazoned on its tail, touched down at Shanghai’s international airport after an 80-minute flight to cheers from thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts.

GE CEO warns against U.S. protectionism, wants level playing field
General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeff Immelt warned the Trump administration on Thursday to avoid protectionist policies while calling on it to level the playing field for American companies with tax reform, revived export financing and improved trade agreements. In a speech at Georgetown University, Immelt said American companies and policymakers should “try harder” to compete in the global economy and win.

Russia, Turkey, Iran sign deal to set up Syria safe zones
Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday signed an agreement on setting up four safe zones in Syria that the United Nations described as a promising step to wind down the brutal six-year war. The United States however gave an extremely cautious welcome, citing concerns over Iran’s role as a guarantor, even as it expressed hope that the deal could set the stage for a settlement.

California Must Provide Trans Prisoners With Compression Underwear
A U.S. district judge last week ordered California state prison officials to provide free chest-flattening underwear, also known as compression tops, to transgender inmates at women’s prisons and feminine accessories to transgender inmates at men’s prisons.

White South Africans Are Preparing For “Removal of All Whites Within Five Years”
Leftist South African leaders have in recent months threatened “the slaughter of all whites, and the removal of all whites within five years,” prompting Suidlanders to prepare for a surprise civil war event which they now believe is imminent.

“Chicago Is A War Zone”: Police Suicide Rate Surges To 60% Above The National Average
“Chicago is a war zone.  These officers are seeing the worst day of everybody’s life every day.”

Italian Prime Minister Secretly Meets With George Soros In Rome Amid Migrant Transport Scandal
On Wednesday April 3rd 2017, Italian PM Gentiloni secretly met with billionaire George Soros. The coincidence of Soros’ visit is interesting as three weeks prior Sicilian judge Carmelo Zuccaro brought up the case of several NGO’s (some of which seem to be linked to the Soros-network) accused of picking up illegal immigrants near the Libyan coasts.

EXCLUSIVE: FBI report finds officers ‘de-policing’ as anti-cop hostility becomes ‘new norm’
An unclassified FBI study on last year’s cop-killing spree found officers are “de-policing” amid concerns that anti-police defiance fueled in part by movements like Black Lives Matter has become the “new norm.”


May 4, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — The U.S. House voted Thursday to adopt the American Health Care Act, a replacement for Obamacare that would pull down some of the pillars of the law described by Republicans as failing and which many insurers are fleeing. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it likely will be amended and sent to a conference committee and another House vote. The House passed the plan Thursday by a narrow 217-213…. (more)


May 4, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — FBI Director James Comey has been caught going around to secret Congressional briefings in “recent weeks” touting the lurid fake “Trump dossier.” He has been claiming that it is a major foundation of the FBI’s investigation of purported Russian collusion with Trump to interfere in the election – – months after the FBI had already assessed the “dossier” as non-credible…. (more)


May 4, 2017
CIRCA — During his final year in office, President Barack Obama’s team significantly expanded efforts to search National Security Agency intercepts for information about Americans, distributing thousands of intelligence reports across government with the unredacted names of U.S. residents during the midst of a divisive 2016 presidential election…. (more)

May 4, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Ann Coulter, one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters throughout his campaign, released a scathing critique on Wednesday of lawmakers’ $1.2 trillion budget deal. “Adios, America!” author Ann Coulter famously predicted that Mr. Trump had the best shot of all Republican candidates of winning the party’s presidential nomination. She defended the billionaire amid ridicule on HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher in June 2015, but took him to task this week in an op-ed titled “Swamp People: 47, Trump: 0.”… (more)


May 4, 2017
REUTERS — U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that allows tax-exempt churches to more actively participate in politics and could free religious organizations to deny employees insurance coverage for birth-control pills…. (more)


May 4, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — FBI Director James B. Comey defended his decision to disclose the reopening of the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton, saying he would do it again even though the thought that his actions affected the outcome of the November presidential election made him “mildly nauseous.”… (more)


May 4, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice has reportedly declined an invitation to testify before a Senate panel investigating Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election, walking back her earlier acceptance. According to CNN, Ms. Rice’s initial acceptance of the invitation from Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, was based on the presupposition that it was a bipartisan request…. (more)

May 4, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — A new book, “Rising Star,” shedding light on Barack Obama’s past, suggests he was more politically ambitious at a younger age than previously believed – – and that he had asked another woman to marry him before he ever met his eventual partner, Michelle…. (more)

May 4, 2017
SEVEN DAYS — Ron Leavitt was driving from a master gardener class to his Naples, Fla., home three months ago when he received a surprising call from his wife. “She said, ‘The FBI is here to talk to you about Burlington College,'” he recalled. “‘When are you going to be home?'”… (more)

May 3, 2017
RUSH LIMBAUGH — RUSH: We welcome back to the program the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. Welcome back, sir. Great to have you here with us today. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh, it is an honor to be with you always. Thanks for having me on…. (more)


May 3, 2017
LIFEZETTE — LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham predicted congressional Republicans will have “hell to pay” for the “demoralizing” and “disappointing” budget compromise unveiled this week, during an interview Tuesday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”… (more)

May 3, 2017
NEWSMAX — National Review Editor Rich Lowry said Democrats “rolled” Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump with the $1 trillion spending deal crafted this week…. (more)

May 3, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that perhaps a future government shutdown would be good for the country. Mr. Trump tweeted: “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We…” he continued, “either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”… (more)

May 3, 2017
PHILIP KLEIN — If you want to gain an understanding of why it’s so difficult for many people to trust Republicans on healthcare, look no further than the cynical decision of Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., to abandon his long-standing support for repealing Obamacare…. (more)

May 3, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned the May Day rioting that resulted Monday in 25 arrests, the latest in a series of violent outbreaks that have roiled the liberal Oregon enclave for months. “In Portland, we respect peaceful protest, but we do not and cannot support acts of violence and vandalism,” said Mr. Wheeler in a statement. “That’s not political speech. That’s crime.”… (more)

May 3, 2017
ALICIA POWE — The Democratic National Committee is currently defending the tactics it used last year to rig the presidential primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders in a class-action lawsuit, brazenly telling voters in a court of law that the party is not obligated to run a fair and impartial primary election…. (more)

May 3, 2017
BOB UNRUH — A document dump of nearly 1,000 pages revealing still more classified information in emails sent by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton through an unsecured email system is prompting a call for a new criminal investigation…. (more)

May 2, 2017
THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR — After Pope Francis early in his papacy decried capitalism as “trickle-down economics” – – a polemical phrase coined by the left during the Reagan years that Francis frequently borrows – – radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh commented, “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.” Talk show host Michael Savage called him “Lenin’s pope.” Pope Francis took such comments as a compliment. “I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” he told the Italian press…. (more)


May 2, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — Monday marked May Day, which was punctuated by scores of “workers” marches around the world, but one of the leading experts on communism says movements like this always end in death, poverty and misery…. (more)


May 2, 2017
NEWSMAX — An FBI employee in 2014 traveled to Syria, married an ISIS terrorist, and told him he was being investigated, CNN reported. Daniela Greene was later prosecuted and served two years in prison, her sentence reduced after she cooperated with authorities. Her case was never publicized, and the court documents sealed because “charges against her would contribute to a substantial likelihood of imminent danger to a party, witness, or other person as well as a substantial likelihood that the ongoing investigation will be seriously jeopardized,” prosecutors argued at the time…. (more)


May 2, 2017
NEWSMAX — Capitol Hill conservatives – – shocked at Jim DeMint’s expected ouster as Heritage Foundation president – – are reportedly circulating a letter urging the board of trustees to keep the former senator from South Carolina at the helm…. (more)

May 2, 2017
NEWSMAX — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has broken ranks to criticize former President Barack Obama and other Democrats for having “giant blind spots” when it comes to the “lived experiences of most Americans.”… (more)

May 2, 2017
GARTH KANT — The journalist who scooped the establishment media and unmasked Susan Rice as a key figure in the Obama administration spying scandal turned the tables Monday and grilled White House reporters about how they are doing their jobs…. (more)


May 2, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — President Donald Trump’s administration is at long last setting their sights on the lunchroom standards former first lady Michelle Obama imposed on students across the nation, and come next year, schools across the nation will be able to opt-out of a couple of the regulations…. (more)

May 2, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Last week the Vermont socialist, Democrat Bernie Sanders, endorsed a reputedly pro-life Democrat running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. The president of NARAL ProChoice America called the endorsement a betrayal of women…. (more)

America Was Founded As A Christian Nation By Christians That Believed That The Bible Is The Word Of God

One of the reasons why America has gotten so far off track is because most of the population has forgotten that our founders intended our country to be a Christian nation with laws based upon the principles found in the Word of God. The other day I encouraged my readers “to look into why our founders came to this country in the first place, what they believed was most important in life, and how they viewed the world”, and this is precisely what I was talking about. The United States was founded by waves of Christian immigrants from Europe, and these were people that took their faith extremely seriously. These days there are so many people running around saying that we should “get back to the Constitution”, but the Constitution itself was based upon the laws, values and principles in the Bible. If we truly want to get back to the way that our founders intended this country to run, we have no choice but to get back to the Bible. (Read More…)


Firestorm brewing as scientists work to create synthetic human DNA

“The fouled ethics of creating synthetic human DNA will not deter them from going ahead with it. Technocrats invent because they can. However, Transhumanists are vitally interested in creating super-men who can conquer immortality.” — Technocracy News

According to CNBC:

As synthetic DNA is being researched, ethical questions are coming to surface  Tuesday, 2 May 2017 | 7:00 AM ET | 01:50

Last May a seemingly commonplace meeting kicked off a firestorm of controversy. More than 100 experts in genetics and bioengineering convened at Harvard Medical School for a meeting that was closed to the public — attendees were asked not to contact news media or to post about the meeting on social media.

The same group is getting back together in New York City next week.

View article →


U.S. House Votes to Reduce Planned Parenthood Funding for One Year Under Republican Healthcare Bill

Christian News reports:

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 on Thursday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, reducing—but not completely eliminating—funding for the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood for one year in the process.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will strip Planned Parenthood of $390 million of the more than $450 million it receives in federal funding each year. Speaker Paul Ryan said in January that the funding would be redirected to community health centers, which do not perform abortions.

View article →


Mid-Day Snapshot

May 5, 2017

The House GOP Moves the Ball Forward

The ObamaCare repeal bill isn’t even close to a touchdown, but it’s a good start. Now it’s the Senate’s turn.

The Foundation

“To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.” —Alexander Hamilton (1791)



ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 5

  • A kinder, gentler Trump for third healthcare try (Read More)
  • Senate Moves Obamacare Repeal to Slow Lane After House Squeaker (Read More)
  • 14 Players to Watch in Senate Health-Care Overhaul (Read More)
  • Futures flat ahead of jobs report; IBM drops (Read More)
  • Oil Stems Losses in Volatile Trading (Read More)
  • Uber faces criminal probe over software used to evade authorities (Read More)
  • Saudi Arabia says Trump visit to enhance cooperation in fighting extremism (Read More)
  • Merkel’s Party Rebound Faces First Test in German State Vote (Read More)
  • Macron stretches lead as French presidential campaign enters final day (Read More)
  • U.S. Jet Fighters Flex Muscle Amid Russia Tensions (Read More)
  • OPEC Runs Out of Options to Boost Oil Price (Read More)
  • Influence of English is fading, says EU chief (Read More)
  • With maiden jet flight, China enters dog-fight with Boeing, Airbus (Read More)
  • One of Venezuela’s Biggest Investors Would Welcome Regime Change (Read More)
  • Clashes erupt on Pakistan-Afghan frontier killing ‘several’: Pakistan (Read More)
  • These Owners Have Won Big—and Often—at the Kentucky Derby (Read More)
  • New York City Cafe Says Starbucks Stole Its Unicorn Drink (Read More)
  • Iraqi forces gain foothold in northwest Mosul after surprise new push (Read More)
  • Turkish court rejects Wikipedia’s appeal over website’s blocking (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/5/2017

UK parliament panel: Israel’s politics diminish possibilities of peace

Netanyahu: I hope Trump-Abbas meeting will bring about a change

Netanyahu: Abbas lied to Trump

Trump’s new toy: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Trump to visit Israel, Vatican and Saudi Arabia in first foreign trip

Trump’s trip itinerary shows he wants coalition to back peace, tackle Iran, fight terrorism

Netanyahu warns Israel not bound by 2015 Iranian nuke deal

Israeli Official: Iran Is Arming Itself With Deadlier, More Accurate Weapons to Target Us With and IDF Must Plan Accordingly

U.S. Deploys F-15s to Israel to Train With Israeli Air Force

Israel said considering bringing foreign doctors to force feed hunger strikers

Report: Attempted stabbing attack at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron

Welcome to Palestine? My smart phone just went stupid

Syria government ‘producing chemical weapons at research facilities’

Russia, Iran, Turkey agree on Syria safe zones, opposition cries foul

Syria: Rebels storm out as ‘safe zones’ plan signed

75 Percent of All Iraqi Christians Have Fled Terror-Stricken Country, Says MP

ISIS to Jihadists: Use Fake Apartment, Job, Craigslist Ads to Lure Hostage, Murder Victims

TSA Report Warns Against Truck Ramming Attacks By Terrorists

UN accuses Saudi Arabia of using terror laws to suppress free speech

Saudi king’s new order loosens guardianship rules on women

Iran says ready for Saudi talks despite ‘unlawful and inflammatory’ remarks

Greek Orthodox Bishop Calls on Turkey’s Erdogan to Convert or Face ‘Unending Hell’ With Muhammed

Lynch mob storms police station in Pakistani, child killed

Russian bombers, fighter jets fly near Alaska, prompting Air Force escort

China says making air force drills more realistic

House overwhelmingly backs new sanctions against North Korea

Rep. Royce: Shutting down North Korea’s economy is key

South Korea’s ‘life or death’ presidential election

South Koreans begin early voting to replace ousted President

Hacking arrest, fake news in tense French presidential race

Political talk is causing problems at work, survey finds

Dem Senator Calls for Special Prosecutor to Investigate Huma Abedin

Facebook is hiring moderators. But is the job too gruesome to handle?

FBI report finds officers ‘de-policing’ as anti-cop hostility becomes ‘new norm’

“Chicago Is A War Zone”: Police Suicide Rate Surges To 60% Above The National Average

Venezuelans again take to streets as death toll jumps to 37

US crude plunges 4.8% to $45.52, posting worst close in more than five months

New San Francisco policy could let city agencies launch drones

The Spy in the Next Pod – Robots disguised as dolphins, squids, turtles and more secretly collect intelligence

‘Smart’ denim promises touchscreen tech clothes

SpaceX plans to launch first internet-providing satellites in 2019

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Karakenja, Tajikistan

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

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

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,500ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 12,000ft

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 10,000ft

Strengthening Tropical Cyclone Donna threatens Vanuatu with flooding, damaging winds

Staggering Losses Being Recorded For Farmers, Ranchers After Blizzard

Slow-moving flooding disaster to expand along Mississippi River through mid-May

Aerial images show devastating flooding in central US

Israel officially in drought year

Beijing Sandstorm Prompts Pollution Warning for Some 22 Million

Firestorm brewing as scientists work to create synthetic human DNA

Republicans cheer ‘rescue’ from Obamacare with first major vote to repeal and replace

31 seconds of the healthcare vote that shows why people hate politics

GOP senator: Obamacare replacement has ‘zero’ chance of passing Senate as is

GOP Health Bill Jeopardizes Out-of-Pocket Caps in Employer Plans

Drinking Alcohol Makes Straight Men More Sexually Fluid: ‘Beer Goggles’ Boost Physical Attraction To Same Sex

California Must provide trans prisoners with compression underwear at women’s prisons and feminine accessories to transgender inmates at men’s prisons

How RuPaul’s Drag Race Pushed Glamour Mainstream

Historic: Trump Restores Religious Rights and Protects Pastors on Day of Prayer

White House: ACLU lawsuit threat shows anti-religion, anti-GOP bias

ADL slams Trump’s order on religious freedom while Orthodox Union commends it

Trump to visit the Vatican on first foreign trip as president

Anne Graham Lotz Encourages Christians to Prepare for the Rapture

Tim Challies – The Hottest Thing at Church Today

Hillsong fails in legal campaign against Tanya Levin

Boston pastor arrested for drug trafficking, possession

Want an Easy Life?? You Need the “The Anointing of Ease!”

Trump’s religious liberty order slammed as ‘pretty much nothing’

U.S. House Votes to Reduce Planned Parenthood Funding for One Year Under Republican Healthcare Bill

Planned Parenthood’s ‘Champion of the Century’ Hillary Clinton Declares Abortion ‘Right and Moral’

LGBT groups condemn Trump’s religious liberty executive order

Posted: 05 May 2017 06:14 AM PDT

President Donald Trump campaigned on being a “real friend” to the gay community, but several LGBT rights organizations said the religious liberty executive order he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deadly unrest grips Venezuela as students rally…

Posted: 05 May 2017 06:09 AM PDT

A student leader was shot dead as protests raged on in the streets of Venezuela Thursday in the latest spasm of anger aimed at removing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Netflix Edits ‘Bill Nye’ Episode to Remove Segment Saying Chromosomes Determine Gender

Posted: 05 May 2017 06:02 AM PDT

When uploaded to Netflix, an episode of the educational children’s show “Bill Nye the Science Guy” cut out a segment saying that chromosomes determine one’s gender….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pentagon Watching Iran-North Korea Military Alliance

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:57 AM PDT

When Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a “midget” submarine earlier this week, Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korean influence in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Unsafe levels of Toxic Arsenic found in 73% of Baby Rice Snacks

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:48 AM PDT

Three-quarters of baby rice products contain dangerous levels of arsenic, a study shows. Researchers found illegally high amounts – which breach EU limits – in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Brad Pitt Mocks His Parents Speaking in Tongues; Talks Frustration With Christianity’s ‘Don’ts’

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

Actor Brad Pitt, who has identified as an atheist despite his Baptist upbringing, opened up in a recent interview about how his parents moved toward…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Famine of ‘Biblical Proportions’ Descending Upon Yemen; Child Dying Every 10 Minutes

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:38 AM PDT

Yemen’s civil war has brought the country on the brink of a famine of “biblical proportions,” humanitarian aid workers said, with a child dying every…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US-led coalition warplanes banned from Syria safe zones

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:33 AM PDT

The four safe zones to be established in Syria will be closed for flights by US-led coalition warplanes, said the Russian envoy to the Astana…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kim Jong-Un Accuses US and South Korea Of Assassination Attempt

Posted: 05 May 2017 05:29 AM PDT

North Korea on Friday accused the U.S. and South Korean spy agencies of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on leader Kim Jong Un involving bio-chemical weapons….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deadly ‘Superbug’ Fungus emerging in U.S. hospitals

Posted: 05 May 2017 04:23 AM PDT

A deadly “superbug” fungus that is hard to spot and harder to kill is slowly infiltrating U.S. hospitals, health experts say. Candida auris enters the bloodstream, spreads throughout…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FORD Laying Off 130 Workers in Ohio…

Posted: 05 May 2017 04:18 AM PDT

Ford Motor Co. will temporarily lay off 130 workers at a factory near Cleveland, a move aimed at lessening supply of medium-duty work trucks hit…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FAMILIAR SPIRIT – Hunters film what appears to be grainy ‘ghost girl’ walking through woods

Posted: 04 May 2017 07:01 PM PDT

A Mystery “ghost girl” appeared to have been filmed walking in the woods. The spooky snap sparked wild theories among locals that it was the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Spending Bill Includes Billions in for Israel

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:54 PM PDT

Congress passed a funding bill Thursday that will give Israel billions of dollars and advance more pro-Israel efforts in the U.S. The bill provides $3.1…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Gluten-free diet ‘could raise heart attack risk’

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:43 PM PDT

Dieters who go gluten-free could be at greater risk of having a heart attack, experts have warned. Researchers found people who avoid wheat could be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Feds May Begin Calorie Regulations Soon!

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:38 PM PDT

Jenny Craig can’t arrest you if you miscount your calories, but the federal government could if a new calorie-counting rule takes effect. The U.S. Food…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Faith leaders praise Trump’s action to protect religious liberty

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:32 PM PDT

Faith leaders are praising what they hope is a first step by the Trump administration to protect religious liberties that were put in a bull’s-eye…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Drinking Alcohol Makes Straight Men More Sexually Fluid, Boost Physical Attraction To Same Sex

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:21 PM PDT

Many of us are all too familiar with the “beer goggles” effect: friends and strangers alike become more attractive after a drink or two. Undoubtedly,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mystery Russian Plane Spotted at SFO

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:16 PM PDT

Departing SFO last week, I peered out my window at a rare site: a gigantic Russian Antonov An-124 cargo jet parked across the runways from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia, Turkey and Iran sign deal to set up Syria safe zones…

Posted: 04 May 2017 06:10 PM PDT

Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday signed an agreement to set up four safe zones in Syria that the United Nations described as a promising…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Trump vows to make peace in Middle East a top priority

Posted: 04 May 2017 12:32 PM PDT

President Trump promised Wednesday to make peace in the Middle East a top priority, vowing to do “whatever is necessary” to reach a historic deal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump’s First Foreign Trip Taking Him to Israel at 50th Anniversary of Six-Day War

Posted: 04 May 2017 12:19 PM PDT

President Trump confirmed Thursday morning at a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House that he will be visiting…

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Trump Signs Religious Freedom Executive Order in Front of Interfaith Gathering at White House

Posted: 04 May 2017 12:16 PM PDT

During an interfaith gathering at the White House, President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday—the National Day of Prayer—upholding religious freedom in the nation…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Retail Apocalypse Could Be Coming to American Grocery Stores Next!

Posted: 04 May 2017 12:11 PM PDT

The American grocery store has so far been mostly immune to the ravages of online shopping and the all around apocalyptic outlook facing the nation’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Estimated 10,000 Cattle Wiped Out In Colorado Blizzard!

Posted: 04 May 2017 12:07 PM PDT

Ranchers are dealing with a big problem from this past weekend’s blizzard in southeastern Colorado. The snowstorm killed thousands of cattle. “They’ll actually drown in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Breaking News: House Passes New Healthcare Law

Posted: 04 May 2017 11:53 AM PDT

Breaking News: House Passes New Healthcare Law Today, by a vote of 217-213, the House of Representatives passed a healthcare bill to repeal and replace…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

75 Percent of All Iraqi Christians Have Fled

Posted: 04 May 2017 11:02 AM PDT

As many as 1.5 million Christians, or close to 75 percent of all followers of Christ in Iraq, have fled the country since 2003, according…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NATION AGAINST NATION: North Korea Now Threatening China

Posted: 04 May 2017 10:59 AM PDT

Tensions on the Korean peninsula are reaching an unprecedented boiling point, as North Korea’s leader threatens war with China, its strongest and most important ally,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

TSA Warns Of Truck Ramming Attacks By Terrorists in America

Posted: 04 May 2017 10:55 AM PDT

Truck owners and truck rental agencies in the U.S. must be “vigilant” about the increasing frequency of “ramming attacks” by terrorists using vehicles as killing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Parents Are ‘Fighting Back’ Against Transgender Ideology in Public Schools

Posted: 04 May 2017 10:50 AM PDT

Fairfax County, Virginia, has become the front line in the battle between American families and those who would impose transgender ideology on school children. The…

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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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What is the nature of the New Apostolic Reformation? (Part 1) Lawless & Pragmatic.

WHAT IS ITS NATURE?

The Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, has in some ways helped us understand many cults and false teachers. While we do not embrace his philosophies, when it comes to discernment work  we continually bring ourselves back to basics by remembering this quote:

“Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Those questions lead us as Christians to ask these questions: Do they operate from a fallen, sinful, fleshly nature or from a new nature Spirit-frilled believers nature? (Galatians 5)

When spiritually profiling heretical movements and their leaders, it’s very important to ask these questions. That’s because once you educate yourself on the nature of  dangerous cult movements and their leaders, it is easier to recognise before they infiltrate your local churches.

The nature of a false teacher is described by Jesus as a wolf (Matthew 7:15)…

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Through Adam, Death” Romans 5:12-14

Romans 5:12-14

Code: B170505

Without Christ, there would be no gospel. The person and work of Jesus Christ are essential to the Christian message of salvation. That’s a fact that isn’t difficult to understand. But what about Adam? Does his existence have any bearing on the gospel?

There are plenty of evangelicals who would answer “no” to that question. Among them is the famous apologist, Dr. William Lane Craig: “Before we conclude that the sky is falling . . . it isn’t true that the whole story of human sin and redemption falls to pieces if you deny the historical Adam and Eve.”

Peter Enns, a Bible scholar and member of the Institute for Biblical Research, goes a step further and outright denies that the biblical Adam ever existed. Science is too compelling for Enns, a professing Christian, to take that part of the Bible seriously: “One cannot read Genesis literally—meaning as a literally accurate description of physical, historical reality—in view of the state of scientific knowledge today.” [1]

But even among those who affirm a true historical Adam, many believe that death preceded him—either through evolutionary processes or vast amounts of time. Some of them are men who would never compromise the gospel but are willing to leave our Old Testament origins open to interpretation.

The degrees of error may vary but the fundamental reason never changes—we all (Scripture included) must bow to the golden calf of modern science.

John MacArthur forcefully differs with the theological errors and indifference concerning our origin. He argues that the gospel stands or falls on the historicity of the biblical Adam. Moreover, in his sermon, “Through Adam, Death,” John points out that the real theological flashpoint concerning Adam actually lies in the New Testament—Romans 5:12–14 to be exact.

Adam was a real man—a real, genuine, true, historical person. Not mythical, not symbolic. A real person. The first man. Not some kind of collective man at the end of some evolutionary process; not some kind of symbolic man; not some mythical man; not some fabricated, poetic man; but a real man. Adam is a real man, and that is essential to Christian truth in an understanding of the world and the way it is. He is a real man as Jesus Christ was a real man, and it is Jesus Christ who is called the second Adam and the last Adam. Any evolutionary lies that seek to eliminate Adam as a historical person are guilty of a destructive assault on the gospel and on Scripture.

In order to understand Christ’s mission as the “second Adam” we need to be grounded in the true historical account of the first Adam. If we’re to understand who we are and what we are to do today, we need to understand who Adam was and what he did at the dawn of time. If we are to see our desperate need for Christ, we need to grasp our identity in Adam. In his sermon, “Through Adam, Death,” John MacArthur reveals that Christ’s accomplishments on the cross must be seen in contrast to Adam’s failure in the garden.

Click here to listen to “Through Adam, Death.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170505
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayer?

God is a God of miracles. Tumors miraculously disappear. A hardened criminal surrenders their life to Christ. A child declared “unfit for life” is born perfectly healthy. Hard-to-reach cultures are coming to Christ through divine intervention.

Many of us likely haven’t seen a life-altering miracle outside the miraculous regeneration of our hearts. Similarly, there are seasons when it seems like God is answering everyone’s prayers but ours.

Over the last decade or so, my family has known one of those seasons. When I see others around me praising God for his healing touch or powerful answer to prayer, I’m stirred up with mixed emotions. Although I’m encouraged to see God at work in a way that brings him glory and relieves someone’s pain, I’m tempted to wonder, Why not me? Why does God seem silent to my prayers? Am I doing something wrong?

Thankfully, God speaks to us who are battling these questions. If you are long-suffering and have wondered if your trials will end, Christ gives you two encouraging commands in Mark 4:21-43.

When Jairus’ Daughter Died

A ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, had come to Jesus, imploring him earnestly to heal his daughter, who was on the verge of dying. Immediately, Jesus began following Jairus to his home, but was interrupted when a woman, who had been internally bleeding for 12 years, touched the edge of Christ’s garment. As power went out from him, she was immediately healed.

Meanwhile, as Jesus is conversing with the miraculously healed woman, Jairus’ daughter is dying. By the time Jesus moves on, others from Jairus’ household inform him that there was no longer a reason to bother Jesus, for the ruler’s daughter had died.

Can you imagine what must have gone through Jairus’ mind? Along with grief over his daughter’s death, he may have struggled with confusion, even anger, at Jesus’ delay. Why did he stop to heal that woman when he knew my daughter was dying? Didn’t he care about my need as well? Maybe I didn’t plead earnestly enough with him…

No matter what questions and emotions Jairus felt, Jesus knew them. And he also knows our questions and emotions when we feel like our prayers are falling on deaf ears. Jesus speaks to these questions and concerns when he says, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 4:36).

Do Not Fear

Don’t fear how your circumstances may appear. Don’t fear that God has forgotten or doesn’t care. Don’t fear that God is listening to other’s prayers, but not yours. Don’t fear that your circumstances haven’t changed because you don’t have as much faith as others. Don’t fear that your trials are beyond the strength, control, or wisdom of God.

It is God’s undeserved grace when he answers our prayers for a change in circumstances, and it is equally his undeserved grace when he allows our circumstances to continue for his good purposes. Because we are so naturally drawn to worldly comfort, difficult circumstances can be God’s severe mercies that keep us near to him. Unfulfilled longings can actually protect us from living independently, as though this fallen world was our home.

When God answers someone else’s prayer, our joy for them (if we have any) will often be mixed with a fresh blow of grief and hurt over God’s silence toward our own trials. Or if our eyes are fixed on suffering people, rather than on Christ, the heaviness will tempt us to despair and question where God is.

Therefore, Christ commands us not to fear. Rather—

Only Believe

Only believe “is a command for present, continuous action urging us to maintain the faith we initially demonstrated when coming to Jesus.”¹

When circumstances weary you from praying and enduring after years of unanswered prayers, or when you see Christ work powerfully in someone else’s life while he continues to allow pain, trials, or sickness in yours, fix your eyes on Christ and the faith that initially drew you to him. Remember what Christ did for you on the cross, pardoning your sins, and be encouraged that, no matter how circumstances may seem, your suffering is never meaningless.

Reclaim the promises that are yours in Christ Jesus:

  • He promises to be faithful by sanctifying us completely and preparing us for our eternal home (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
  • He promises to hear and answer all of what we ask that is in accordance with his will (1 John 5:14-15).
  • He promises to give us his strength, wisdom, and power to accomplish all that he calls us to (Philippians 4:13).
  • He promises to lead us in paths of righteousness, restore us, be near us, comfort us, and fill us with himself (Psalm 23:1-6).
  • He promises to use our suffering as we trust in him to produce endurance, character, and hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:1-5).
  • He promises to work all things together for our good (eternal good), even when we can’t see or understand it (Romans 8:28).
  • He promises to use this momentary affliction to prepare for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayer?

“Do not fear. Only believe.” Brother or sister, Christ has a purpose in your pain, sometimes through long-suffering rather than deliverance.

He may choose to be glorified through your enduring faith rather than your desired circumstances. He may choose to magnify his worth in your heart and to the world around you by causing you to love him more in the pain, rather than freeing you from it. He may choose to use your suffering as a ministry to a hurting world rather than allowing you do to ministry in the way you had expected or desired.

Christ may choose to bring a powerful and miraculous change in your circumstances for his glory, but if he doesn’t, he is no less God and you are no less loved than those for whom he does. A miraculously answered prayer reveals God’s power, but a long-suffering believer, steadfastly trusting in Christ, reveals his worth.

Christ was certainly glorified through his healing touch on the bleeding woman (who had also endured her own 12 years of long-suffering). However, he cared no less for Jairus and his daughter. He used his delay to reveal his power and glory in an even greater way: restoring life to the dead.

For us, our prayers may not be answered in the way we desire on this earth, but we can press on in confidence that Christ is always at work in our circumstances, even if we can’t see how in the moment.

¹John MacArthur, John MacArthur ESV Study Bible.

why does god answer some prayers

The post Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayer? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

May 5, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Speech of Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. (4:2)

It is fitting that Paul begins with prayer, because it is the most important speech the new man can utter. Prayer is the strength of the believer’s fellowship with the Lord and the source of his power against Satan and his angels (cf. Eph. 6:18). Through prayer, believers confess their sin, offer praise to God, call on their sympathetic High Priest (Heb. 4:15–16), and intercede for each other. Prayer from a pure heart (Ps. 66:18) is to be directed to God (Matt. 6:9), consistent with the mind and will of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18), in the name of Christ, and for the glory of the Father (John 14:13).

In 4:2, Paul touches on an often overlooked aspect of prayer, that of perseverance. Devote yourselves is from proskartereō, a compound word made up of kartereō (”to be steadfast,” or “to endure”) with an added preposition that intensifies the meaning. The verb means “to be courageously persistent,” “to hold fast and not let go.” Paul is calling strongly on believers to persist in prayer. They are to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18; cf. Luke 18:1), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and be devoted to prayer (Rom. 12:12). By so doing, they follow the example of Cornelius (Acts 10:2) and the apostles (Acts 6:4).

Praying at all times is not necessarily limited to constant vocalizing of prayers to God. Rather, it refers to a God consciousness that relates every experience in life to Him. That does not, however, obviate the need for persistence and earnestness in prayer. Such persistence is illustrated repeatedly in Scripture. The 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room “were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). The early church followed their example (cf. Acts 2:42).

Our Lord told two parables illustrating the importance of persistent prayer:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect  man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.” (Luke 18:1–8)

And He said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him ’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:5–10)

The point of both those parables is that if unwilling and sinful humans will honor persistence, how much more will our holy, loving heavenly Father?

Virginia Stem Owens wrote the following about wrestling with God in earnest prayer:

Christians have always interpreted the splitting of the temple veil during the crucifixion as symbolic of their liberation from the mediated presence of God. Henceforth they were “free” to approach him directly—which is almost like telling someone he is “free” to stick his head in the lion’s jaws. For once you start praying there is no guarantee that you won’t find yourself before Pharaoh, shipwrecked on a desert island, or in a lion’s den.

This is no cosmic teddy bear we are cuddling up to. As one of the children describes him in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “he’s not a tame lion.” [Jacques] Ellul is convinced that prayer for persons living in the technological age must be combat, and not just combat with the Evil One, with one’s society, or even one’s divided self, though it is also all of these; it is combat with God. We too must struggle with him just as Jacob did at Peniel where he earned his name Israel—“he who strives with God.” We too must be prepared to say, “I will not let you go till you bless me.”

Consider Moses, again and again intervening between the Israelites and God’s wrath; Abraham praying for Sodom; the widow demanding  justice of the unjust judge. But in this combat with God, Ellulcautions, we must be ready to bear the consequences:… “Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint, and he went away lame. However, the most usual experience will be God’s decision to put to work the person who cried out to him.… Whoever wrestles with God in prayer puts his whole life at stake.”

Awful things happen to people who pray. Their plans are frequently disrupted. They end up in strange places. Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was to go”.… After Mary’s magnificent prayer at the annunciation, she finds herself the pariah of Nazareth society.… How tempting to up the stakes, making prayer merely another consumer product. How embarrassing to have to admit not only that prayer may get you into a prison, as it did Jeremiah, but also that while you’re moldering away in a miry pit there, you may have a long list of lamentations and unanswered questions to present to your Lord. How are we going to tell them they may end up lame and vagrant if they grasp hold of this God? (“Prayer—Into the Lion’s Jaws,” Christianity Today, November 19, 1976, pp. 222–23; italics in the original)

That stands in marked contrast to the glib, self-centered prayers of our day. Much of the contemporary church has lost its reverence for God. He is too often viewed as a sort of cosmic automatic teller machine. If we punch in the right code, He’s obligated to deliver what we want. The Lord might well ask the twentieth-century church what He asked the rebellious priests of Malachi’s day: “ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:6).

True prayer often involves struggling and grappling with God, proving to Him the deepest concern of one’s heart. Prayer is to be a persistent, courageous struggle from which the believer may come away limping.

Such prayer gives the believer a holy boldness to pray forcefully when convinced of God’s will, as the following example shows.

In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Friedrich Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church.… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will-permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”

Those words are shocking to us, but they were certainly heartfelt. Although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when  Luther’s letter came, he recovered completely and lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.

There is a tension between boldness and waiting on God’s will. That tension is resolved by being persistent, yet accepting God’s answer when it finally comes.

True prayer also involves keeping alert. In its most basic sense, that means to stay awake and not fall asleep during prayer. While in Gethsamane, Jesus “came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ ” (Matt. 26:40–41). It is impossible to pray while sleeping. Christians should choose times when they are awake and alert to pray.

Paul’s thought here, however, is broader than mere physical alertness. He also means that believers should look for those things about which they ought to be praying. Christians sometimes pray vague, general prayers that are difficult for God to answer because they do not really ask anything specific. To be devoted to prayer requires something specific to pray for. We will never persistently pray for something we are not concerned about. And to be concerned, we must be alert to specific needs.

A third element in prayer is an attitude of thanksgiving. This is the fifth time that Paul has mentioned gratitude in this epistle. Believers are to be grateful for salvation (1:12), for growth (2:6), for fellowship with Christ and His church (3:15), for the opportunity to serve (3:17), and, here, for the guarantee that God will answer prayer in accordance with His purpose. That, of course, is what is best for our good in time and our glory in eternity.

When believers pray, they can begin by being thankful for the following spiritual blessings and privileges. First, believers are to be thankful for God’s presence. In Psalm 75:1, the psalmist writes, “We give thanks to Thee, O God, we give thanks, for Thy name is near.” Second, believers are to be thankful for God’s provision. Adrift at sea in the midst of a raging storm, Paul nevertheless was grateful to God for the food He provided: “He took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all” (Acts 27:35). Third, believers are to be thankful for God’s pardon. Paul said in Romans 6:17, “Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Christians should be grateful for their salvation. Fourth, believers are to be thankful for God’s promise: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57; cf. 2 Cor. 2:14). “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20). Finally, believers are to be  thankful for God’s purpose: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).[1]


4:2 Paul never tires of exhorting the people of God to be diligent in their prayer life. Doubtless one of the regrets we all will have when we get to heaven will be that we did not spend more time in prayer, especially when we will realize the extent to which our prayers were answered. There is a great deal of mystery in connection with the whole subject of prayer, many questions which cannot be answered. But the best attitude for the Christian is not to seek to analyze, dissect, or understand prayer’s deeper mysteries. The best approach is to keep praying in simple faith, leaving aside one’s intellectual doubts.

Not only are we to continue earnestly in prayer, but we are also to be vigilant in it. This immediately reminds us of the Lord Jesus’ request to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” They were not vigilant, and so fell sound asleep. Not only are we to watch against sleep, but also against wandering thoughts, listlessness, and unreality. And we are to watch to see that we are not robbed of time for prayer (Eph. 6:18). Then again, our prayers are to be with thanksgiving. Not only are we to be thankful for past answers to prayer, but in faith we can also thank the Lord for prayers He has not answered. Guy King summarizes nicely: “His love wants the best for us; His wisdom knows the best for us; and His power gets the best for us.”[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 177–182). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2015–2016). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 5 – The Priority of Spiritual Unity

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2–4).

✧✧✧

Unity in the Spirit is the key to a church’s overall effectiveness.

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren’t immune to disunity’s subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries, but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman (Peter), two passionate and ambitious “sons of thunder” (James and John), an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man (Philip), a racially prejudiced man (Bartholomew), a despised tax collector (Matthew), a political Zealot (Simon), and a traitor (Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver).

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That’s the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you’re part of a select team that is accomplishing the world’s greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul’s admonition to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:2).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 3:1–9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.[1]


Twelve Disciples Called (10:1–4)

10:1 In the last verse of chapter 9, the Lord instructed His disciples to pray for more laborers. To make that request sincerely, believers must be willing to go themselves. So here we find the Lord calling His twelve disciples. He had previously chosen them, but now He calls them to a special evangelistic mission to the nation of Israel. With the call went authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of diseases. The uniqueness of Jesus is seen here. Other men had performed miracles, but no other man ever conferred the power on others.

10:2–4 The twelve apostles were:

  1. Simon, who is called Peter. Impetuous, generous-hearted, affectionate man that he was, he was a born leader.
  2. Andrew, his brother. He was introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist (John 1:36, 40), then brought his brother Peter to Him. He made it his business thereafter to bring men to Jesus.
  3. James, the son of Zebedee, who was later killed by Herod (Acts 12:2)—the first of the twelve to die as a martyr.
  4. John, his brother. Also a son of Zebedee, he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. We are indebted to him for the Fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and Revelation.
  5. Philip. A citizen of Bethsaida, he brought Nathanael to Jesus. He is not to be confused with Philip the Evangelist, in the book of Acts.
  6. Bartholomew. Believed to be the same as Nathanael, the Israelite in whom Jesus found no guile (John 1:47).
  7. Thomas, also called Didymus, meaning “twin.” Commonly known as “Doubting Thomas,” his doubts gave way to a magnificent confession of Christ (John 20:28).
  8. Matthew. The former tax-collector who wrote this Gospel.
  9. James, the son of Alphaeus. Little else is definitely known about him.
  10. Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus. He is also known as Judas the son of James (Luke 6:16). His only recorded utterance is found in John 14:22.
  11. Simon, the Canaanite, whom Luke calls the Zealot (6:15).
  12. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord.

The disciples were probably in their twenties at this time. Taken from varied walks of life and probably young men of average ability, their true greatness lay in their association with Jesus.[2]


2–4 For the first and only time in Matthew, the Twelve are called “apostles.” Apostolos (“apostle,” GK 693), cognate with apostellō (“send,” GK 690), is not a technical term in the background literature. This largely accounts for the fact that as used in NT documents it has narrower and wider meanings (cf. NIDNTT, 1:126–37). Luke 6:13 explicitly affirms that Jesus himself called the Twelve “apostles”; certainly Luke shows more interest in this question than the other three, partly in preparation for his work on the Acts of the Apostles. But in the NT, the term can mean merely “messenger” (Jn 13:16) or refer to Jesus (“the apostle and high priest whom we confess,” Heb 3:1) or elsewhere (esp. in Paul) denote “missionaries” or “representatives”—i.e., a group larger than the Twelve and Paul (Ro 16:7; 2 Co 8:23). Nevertheless, the most natural reading of 1 Corinthians 9:1–5; 15:7; Galatians 1:17, 19 et al. is that even Paul could use the term in a narrow sense to refer to the Twelve plus himself (by special dispensation, 1 Co 15:8–10).

Lists of the Twelve are found here and in three other places in the NT:

Matthew 10:2–4

 

Mark 3:16–19

 

Luke 6:13–16

 

Acts 1:13

 

1.

 

Simon Peter

 

Simon Peter

 

Simon Peter

 

Peter

 

2.

 

Andrew

 

James

 

Andrew

 

John

 

3.

 

James

 

John

 

James

 

James

 

4.

 

John

 

Andrew

 

John

 

Andrew

 

5.

 

Philip

 

Philip

 

Philip

 

Philip

 

6.

 

Bartholomew

 

Bartholomew

 

Bartholomew

 

Thomas

 

7.

 

Thomas

 

Matthew

 

Matthew

 

Bartholomew

 

8.

 

Matthew

 

Thomas

 

Thomas

 

Matthew

 

9.

 

James son of Alphaeus

 

James son of Alphaeus

 

James son of Alphaeus

 

James son of Alphaeus

 

10.

 

Thaddaeus

 

Thaddaeus

 

Simon the Zealot

 

Simon the Zealot

 

11.

 

Simon the Cananaean (NRSV)

 

Simon the Cananaean (NRSV)

 

Judas brother of (or son of) James

 

Judas brother of (or son of) James

 

12.

 

Judas Iscariot

 

Judas Iscariot

 

Judas Iscariot

 

[vacant]

 

Many significant things arise from comparing these lists.

  1. Peter is always first, Judas Iscariot always last. Matthew uses “first” in connection with Peter. The word cannot mean he was the first convert (Andrew or perhaps John was) and probably does not simply mean “first on the list,” which would be a trifling comment (cf. 1 Co 12:28). More likely it means primus inter pares (“first among equals”; see comments at 16:13–20).
  2. The first four names of all four lists are those of two pairs of brothers whose call is mentioned first (cf. 4:18–22).
  3. In each list, there are three groups of four, each group headed by Peter, Philip (not to be confused with the evangelist), and James son of Alphaeus respectively. But within each group the order varies (even from Luke to Acts!) except that Judas is always last. This suggests, if it does not prove, that the Twelve were organizationally divided into smaller groups, each with a leader.
  4. The commission in Mark 6:7 sent the men out two by two; perhaps this accounts for the pairing in the Greek text of Matthew 10:2–4.
  5. Some variations in order can be accounted for with a high degree of probability. For the first four names, Mark lists Peter, James, John, and appends Andrew, doubtless because the first three were an inner core privileged to witness the raising of Jairus’s daughter and the transfiguration and invited to be close to Jesus in his Gethsemane agony. Matthew preserves the order suggested by sibling relationships. He not only puts himself last in his group but mentions his less-than-savory past. Is this a sign of Christian humility?
  6. Apparently Simon the Cananaean (Matthew, Mark) is the same person as Simon the Zealot (Luke, Acts). If so, then apparently Thaddaeus is another name for Judas the brother of (or son of) James (see comments below).

Not much is known concerning most of these men (see Reflections below). For interesting but mostly incredible legends about them, see Hennecke (New Testament Apocrypha, 2:167–531).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 138). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1238). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 276–277). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 5 – MAN THOUGH GUILTY, IS OFFERED GOD’S MERCY

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

ROMANS 5:6

It is vital to any understanding of ourselves and our fellowmen that we believe what is written in the Scriptures about human society—that it is fallen, alienated from God and in rebellion against His laws!

There is plenty of good news in the Bible, but there is never any flattery or back scratching, and what God has spoken is never complimentary to men.

Seen one way, the Bible is a book of doom. It condemns all men as sinners and declares that the soul that sinneth shall die. Always it pronounces sentence against society before it offers mercy; and if we will not own the validity of the sentence we cannot admit the need for mercy!

The coming of Jesus Christ to the world has been so sentimentalized that it means now something utterly alien to the Bible teaching concerning it. Soft human pity has been substituted for God’s mercy in the minds of millions, a pity that has long ago degenerated into self-pity. The blame for man’s condition has somehow been shifted to God, and Christ’s dying for the world has been twisted into an act of penance on God’s part. In the drama of redemption, man is viewed as Miss Cinderella who has long been oppressed and mistreated, but now through the heroic deeds of earth’s noblest Son is about to don her radiant apparel and step forth a queen. This is humanism—romantically tinted with Christianity![1]


Knowing that his readers would want to know more about the quality and character of the divine love that filled them, Paul reminds them of the greatest manifestation of God’s love in all history, perhaps in all eternity: For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. While men were utterly helpless to bring themselves to God, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, notwithstanding the fact that we were ungodly and completely unworthy of His love. When we were powerless to escape from our sin, powerless to escape death, powerless to resist Satan, and powerless to please Him in any way, God amazingly sent His Son to die on our behalf.

Natural human love is almost invariably based on the attractiveness of the object of love, and we are inclined to love people who love us. Consequently, we tend to attribute that same kind of love to God. We think that His love for us is dependent on how good we are or on how much we love Him. But as Jesus pointed out, even traitorous tax collectors were inclined to love those who loved them (Matt. 5:46). And as theologian Charles Hodge observed, “If [God] loved us because we loved him, he would love us only so long as we love him, and on that condition; and then our salvation would depend on the constancy of our treacherous hearts. But as God loved us as sinners, as Christ died for us as ungodly, our salvation depends, as the apostle argues, not on our loveliness, but on the constancy of the love of God” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint], pp. 136–37).[2]


5:6 In verses 6–20, Paul argues from the lesser to the greater. His logic is that if God’s love went out to us when we were His ungodly enemies, will He not much more preserve us now that we belong to Him? This brings us to the fifth benefit of our justification; we are eternally secure in Christ. In developing this theme, the apostle introduces five “much mores.”

The “much more” of deliverance from wrath (5:9).

The “much more” of preservation by His resurrection life (5:10).

The “much more” of the gift of grace (5:15).

The “much more” of the believer’s reign in life (5:17).

The “much more” of abounding grace (5:20).

In verses 6, 7, and 8 Paul emphasizes what we were (without strength, ungodly, sinners) when Christ died for us. In verses 9 and 10 he emphasizes what we are now (justified by Christ’s blood, reconciled by His death) and the resulting certainty of what the Savior will do for us (deliver us from wrath, preserve us by His life).

First we are reminded that we were weak, helpless, without strength, and unable to save ourselves. But at the predetermined time the Lord Jesus Christ visited our planet and died for men. And He did not die for good men, as some might suppose, but for the ungodly. There was no virtue, no excellence in us to commend us to God. We were utterly unworthy, but Christ died for us anyway.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 285). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1696). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 5 – SPIRITUAL CONFIRMATION

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.

Hebrews 10:22

The human personality has a right to be consciously aware of a meeting with God. There will be a spiritual confirmation, an inward knowledge or witness!

This kind of confirmation and witness was taught and treasured by the great souls throughout the ages.

Conscious awareness of the presence of God! I defy any theologian or teacher to take that away from the believing church of Jesus Christ!

But be assured they will try. And I refer not just to the liberal teachers. God has given us the Bible for a reason—so it can lead us to meet God in Jesus Christ, in a clear, sharp encounter that will burn on in our hearts forever and ever.

When the Bible has led us to God and we have experienced God in the crisis of encounter, then the Bible has done its first work. That it will continue to do God’s work in our Christian lives should be evident!

Dear Lord, I pray for all Christian workers who are doing the hard work of translating Scripture into foreign languages. Quicken their minds and bless their work today.[1]


Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (10:22)

Sincere (alēthinos) means genuine, without superficiality, hypocrisy, or ulterior motive. Coming to God with full assurance requires commitment that is genuine.

The nation of Judah, like many individuals, often had come to God with anything but a sincere heart. “ ‘Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 3:10). But a day was to come when His people would change. “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7).

Simon the magician made a profession of faith in Christ, but his heart became corrupt. He tried to use Christ’s name and power for his own glory and benefit, and was harshly rebuked by Peter. “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:21–22). Paul counseled slaves to be obedient to their masters, “in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Eph. 6:5). From the earliest days of the Old Covenant, God had demanded a sincere heart. “You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deut. 4:29). The people who find God are those who seek Him with their whole heart, with total genuineness.

A certain type of faith is built into human nature. Even on the purely human, earthly level, we could not operate without it. We eat food taken from a can or box that we buy in the store, with perfect confidence that it will not harm us. We turn on the faucet, pour a glass of water, and drink it without question. We accept payment in printed paper because we have faith that the government will back its money. Without faith, society could not operate.

But saving faith not only requires faith in a different object, it requires faith from a different source. We can trust in food, water, and money by our own will, our own decision. Faith in Jesus Christ must include our own decision, but it must proceed from God’s decision. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is a gift of God, and part of that gift is saving faith itself. God plants in the heart the desire and the ability to believe, and the ability to receive the gift of salvation.

When we come to God in faith, our hearts should not only be sincere but also sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. This figure, as we might expect, is taken from the sacrificial ceremonies of the Old Covenant. The priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in the basins of clear water, and blood was continually being sprinkled as a sign of cleansing. But all the cleansing, whether with water or blood, was external. Only Jesus can cleanse a man’s heart. By His Spirit He cleanses the innermost thoughts and desires.

In Christ our sins are covered in the blood and our lives are transformed. There must be both; together they make up salvation. We might say the first is positional satisfaction and the second is practical sanctification. God is satisfied with the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, and sin is removed and our consciences are free. We are changed on the inside as we are washed by the Word and born again.

Positional Satisfaction

Having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience is a beautiful picture of deliverance, already mentioned in 9:14. Conscience condemns us and reminds us of our guilt; and the guilt cannot be removed until the sin is removed. When Jesus died, His blood removed our sins, and when we embrace Him by faith, our conscience becomes free from guilt—we are cleansed from an evil conscience. We do not condemn ourselves anymore.

Cleansing of our hearts refers to satisfaction of God’s justice, the expiation of our sins, which is required before we can be acceptable to Him.

Practical Sanctification

The other part of the cleansing, having our bodies washed with pure water, does not refer to baptism, but has to do with our living, with how the Holy Spirit changes our lives. It is the same cleansing mentioned by Paul in Titus 3:5 (“the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”) and in Ephesians 5:26 (“the washing of water with the word”).

These two aspects of cleansing are inseparable. When a man comes to Christ, they both take place. Christ’s death pays the penalty of sin for us and God is satisfied; and the cleansing act of the Holy Spirit begins to change us on the inside and He is satisfied. God’s justice and righteousness are both satisfied; and because of this, a believer can come into God’s presence with confidence.

The Three Requirements of Faith

The faith that God honors, the faith that is from a sincere heart, requires three things: felt need, content, and commitment.

Felt Need

Faith cannot begin until a person realizes his need for salvation. If he is without Christ, he needs salvation whether he recognizes it or not. But he will not have reason to believe until his need is felt, until it is recognized. When Saul was persecuting the church, he had a great need for salvation, but he certainly felt no need of it. He was thoroughly convinced he was doing God’s will. Only when the Lord confronted him dramatically on the Damascus road did his need become known and felt—in Saul’s case, very deeply. The need may not, at first, be clearly understood. On the Damascus road, Saul could not have explained his spiritual need in the way that he was able to do some years later when he wrote the book of Romans. He simply knew that something was desperately wrong in his life and that the answer was in God. He knew he needed something from the Lord.

Often a person’s felt need is only partial. The first feeling of need may only be for a purpose in life or for someone to love us and care for us. Or it may be a sense of need for forgiveness and removal of guilt, for inner peace. The most important thing is that a person realize that the answer to his need is in God. People came to Jesus for many reasons, some of them rather superficial. But when they came, Jesus met all their needs. They may have felt only a need for physical healing, but He also offered spiritual healing. Felt need does not require theological understanding of the doctrine of salvation, only a sincere heart that knows it needs salvation. On the other hand, a person who does not feel a need for salvation, no matter how good his theology, is far from faith in God. Felt need is essential, but inadequate on its own.

Content

A person does not have to comprehend the full knowledge and understanding of the doctrine of salvation before he can be saved, but he does need the gospel truth (1 Cor. 15:1–5) that he is lost in sin and needs the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He must know the gospel. The idea of “blind faith” sounds spiritual, but it is not biblical. Even great persons of faith will not know many of the things about God until they see their Lord face to face in heaven. But God does not demand faith without giving reason for faith. The writer of Hebrews, for example, piles up truth upon truth and presents Jesus as the Jews’ promised Messiah. He also shows that the New Covenant is far superior to the Old, that the old sacrifices were ineffective, and that only the new sacrifice can bring a person to God—and so on and on.

The following story is told of Charming Pollock, a well-known playwright. Mr. Pollock was collaborating with another author in writing a play. As they were working late one night in Pollock’s New York apartment, something in the work they were doing caused the friend to say to Pollock, “Have you ever read the New Testament?” Pollock said he had not, and they continued working until early morning, when they parted. Pollock went to bed, but could not sleep. He was bothered by his friend’s question, simple and casual though it seemed. He finally got out of bed and searched the apartment until he found a New Testament. After reading the gospel of Mark through, he got dressed and walked the streets until dawn. Later, telling the story to the friend, he said, “When I returned home, I found myself on my knees, passionately in love with Jesus Christ.” Beginning with a felt need, vague as it was, he then looked at the truth and its evidence—and believed.

Commitment

The climax of faith is commitment. Professing Christ, without commitment to Christ, is not saving faith.

My father often told the story of a tightrope walker who liked to walk a wire across Niagara Falls—preferably with someone on his back. Many people on the bank expressed complete confidence in his ability to do it, but he always had a difficult time getting a volunteer to climb up on him.

Many people express complete confidence in Christ but never trust themselves to Him.

As a missionary translator in the New Hebrides, John Paton was frustrated in his work for a long time because the people had no word for faith. One day a man who was working for him came into the house and flopped down into a big chair. The missionary asked him what the word would be for what he had just done. The word the man gave in reply was the one Paton used for faith in his translation of the New Testament. Without hesitation or reservation, the man had totally committed his body to the chair. He had felt his need for rest, he was convinced that the chair provided a place for rest, and he committed himself to the chair for rest. A believer must, in the same way, totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then is faith, saving faith.[2]


10:22 Let us draw near. This is the believer’s blood-bought privilege. How wonderful beyond all words that we are invited to have audience, not with this world’s celebrities, but with the Sovereign of the universe! The extent to which we value the invitation is shown by the manner in which we respond to it.

There is a fourfold description of how we should be spiritually groomed in entering the throne room.

  1. With a true heart. The people of Israel drew near to God with their mouth, and honored Him with their lips, but their heart was often far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Our approach should be with utter sincerity.
  2. In full assurance of faith. We draw near with utter confidence in the promises of God and with the firm conviction that we shall have a gracious reception into His presence.
  3. Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. This can be brought about only by the new birth. When we trust Christ, we appropriate the value of His blood. Figuratively speaking, we sprinkle our hearts with it, just as the Israelites sprinkled their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb. This delivers us from an evil conscience. Our testimony is:

Conscience now no more condemns us,

For His own most precious blood

Once for all has washed and cleansed us,

Cleansed us in the eyes of God.

Frances Bevan

  1. And our bodies washed with pure water. Again this is symbolic language. Our bodies represent our lives. The pure water might refer either to the word (Eph 5:25, 26), to the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39), or to the Holy Spirit using the word in cleansing our lives from daily defilement. We are cleansed once for all from the guilt of sin by the death of Christ, but cleansed repeatedly from the defilement of sin by the Spirit through the word (see John 13:10).

Thus we might summarize the four requisites for entering God’s presence as sincerity, assurance, salvation, and sanctification.[3]


22 For “drawing near” to God as the ultimate goal of our salvation, see on 7:25 (cf. 4:16; 10:1). Just as Psalm 15 spells out the qualifications of those who may live on God’s “holy hill” (cf. Ps 24:3–6), so here four phrases set out the features that should characterize those who are privileged to come to God. The first two, “a sincere heart” and “full assurance of faith,” speak of an open, transparent genuineness toward God and a robust trust in his promises. We shall hear much more of what “faith” implies in ch. 11, but linked with plērophoria, “full assurance” (GK 4443; rendered in 6:11 as the “making sure” of hope), it indicates a confident reliance on God that is a far more sturdy quality than “faith” conveys to some today. For such faith as an essential qualification for approaching God, cf. 11:6.

The second pair of phrases balances one another, both speaking of cleansing but focused respectively on the heart and the body. The author has spoken of “sprinkling” to achieve ritual purity with blood (9:19, 21) and with the “water of cleansing” containing the ashes of the red heifer (9:13), and in 12:24 he will extend the imagery to “sprinkling” with the blood of Jesus. Here he does not specify what is sprinkled, but probably the same idea is in mind. The effect of this sprinkling is to provide purification from a “guilty [lit., just “bad”] conscience,” which we were told in v. 2 could not be cleansed by the old sacrifices (cf. also 9:9, 14, all using the same term syneidēsis, “conscience,” GK 5287). It is no surprise to see such cleansing of the “heart” through the sacrifice of Christ among the qualifications for drawing near to God, but there is also a balancing phrase—“our bodies washed with pure water.” The balancing construction setting “bodies” over against “hearts” makes it unlikely this washing with water is intended in a purely metaphorical sense, as in Ezekiel 36:25, though that passage may well be in the author’s mind. In the light of 6:2 (see comments there), it is possible he is speaking of regular ritual ablution as still appropriate for those who worship God (as it was under the old covenant [Ex 29:4; Lev 16:4]), but it is more likely he is referring to Christian baptism as the outward counterpart of the inward “sprinkling” of the heart. The outward and inward aspects of baptism are explicitly contrasted in 1 Peter 3:21, but our author regards them as complementary, with no indication that the physical is of less importance. (Both John the Baptist and Jesus linked baptism in water and in spirit [Mk 1:8; Jn 1:33; 3:5].)[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 262–265). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2191). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 135–136). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 5 – What’s Wrong with False Giving?

When you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.—Matt. 6:2

Giving to the poor literally means any act of mercy, but it came to mean more specifically the giving of money or goods to the needy. Jesus did not say “if” but “when” concerning our giving—in other words, He expects us to do so. But just as sympathy for the needy does not help them unless something is actually done toward their need, so giving money provides us no spiritual blessing unless done from the heart.

Those who, like the Pharisees, give to impress others with their piety and generosity will receive no further reward. When we give with this false motive, we receive back only what people can give; we thereby forfeit God’s blessings.

Many times, of course, the pretense people use to draw attention to or make an impression with their giving is not so obvious. They know, especially if they profess to follow Christ, that other Christians will resent ostentatiousness. So they seek to make their giving “accidentally” noticed. But any strategy designed to draw attention is still a basic form of trumpet-blowing hypocrisy, which can appear in various forms. Whenever we make a point of doing our giving publicly to be noticed, rather than doing it privately simply for God’s reward, we behave more like the hypocrites of Jesus’ day, not like His children.

ASK YOURSELF

 

What are some of the ways that giving can be done for personal recognition, even within the decorum of outward humility? How does one guard against this need for acknowledgment? What are we forgetting when we’re tempted to crave the credit for every dollar we share with others?[1]

 

The Practice and Reward of False Giving

When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (6:2)

A hupokritēs (hypocrite) originally was a Greek actor who wore a mask that portrayed in an exaggerated way the role that was being dramatized. For obvious reasons the term came to be used of anyone who pretended to be what he was not.

John Calvin believed that in all virtues the entrance of [hypocrisy] was to be avoided, there being no work so praiseworthy as not to be in many instances corrupted and polluted by it (A Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], pp. 308–9).

One of Satan’s most common and effective ways of undermining the power of the church is through hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, therefore, is a great peril to the church, and it comes in two forms. The first is that of nonbelievers masquerading as Christians. The second is that of true believers who are sinful but pretend to be spiritual. The warning Jesus gives here applies to both groups.

Augustine said, “The love of honor is the deadly bane of true piety. Other vices bring forth evil works but this brings forth good works in an evil way.” Hypocrisy is so dangerous because it is so deceptive. It uses things that are basically good for purposes that are basically evil. “Hypocrisy,” he goes on to say, “is the homage that vice pays to virtue.”

Eleēnosunē (alms) literally refers to any act of mercy or pity, but came to be used primarily of giving money, food, or clothing to the poor. It is the term from which we get the English eleemosynary, a synonym for charitable.

Jesus does not introduce this teaching with if but when, indicating it is something He expects us to do. To give alms refers to actual giving, not good intentions or warm feelings of pity that never find practical expression. When done in the right spirit it not only is permissible but obligatory for believers.

God has always delighted in acts of mercy and generosity. “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you” (Lev. 25:35). When Israelites freed a slave they were told, “You shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deut. 15:13–14). God’s people were continually reminded in the Psalms, Proverbs, and prophetic writings to be considerate of and generous to the poor, whether fellow Israelites or Gentile strangers.

Jesus and the disciples had their own money bag from which they gave offerings to the poor (John 13:29). It is obvious, therefore, that it is only giving alms in the wrong spirit that is evil. The scribes and Pharisees gave them primarily to bring honor to themselves, not to serve others or to honor God.

The giving of alms had been carried to absurd extremes by rabbinic tradition. In the Jewish apocryphal books we read such things as, “It is better to give to charity than to lay up gold. For charity will save a man from death; it will expiate any sin” (Tobit 12:8) and, “As water will quench a flaming fire, so charity will atone for sin” (The Wisdom of Sirach 3:30). Consequently, many Jews believed that salvation was much easier for the rich, because they could buy their way into heaven by giving to the poor. The same mechanistic and unbiblical principle is seen in traditional Roman Catholic dogma. Pope Leo the Great declared, “By prayer we seek to appease God, by fasting we extinguish the lust of the flesh, and by alms we redeem our sins.”

But just as a sympathetic feeling for someone in need does not help them unless something is given to meet their need, giving them money provides no spiritual benefit or blessing unless it is given from the heart. In any case, no act of charity or any other good work can atone for sin.

There seems to be no evidence from history or archaeology that a literal trumpet or other instrument was used by Jews to announce their giving. The figure was used by Jesus to describe the attention in the synagogues and in the streets that many wealthy hypocrites, not just scribes and Pharisees, purposely attracted to themselves when they presented their gifts.

The reward they wanted was recognition and praise, to be honored by men, and that became their reward in full. They have their reward was a form of a technical expression used at the completion of a commercial transaction, and carried the idea of something being paid for in full and receipted. Nothing more was owed or would be paid. Those who give for the purpose of impressing others with their generosity and spirituality will receive no other reward, especially from God. The Lord owes them nothing. When we give to please men, our only reward will be that which men can give. Seeking men’s blessings forfeits God’s.

There are many more subtle trumpets people can use to call attention to their good works. When they make a point of doing publicly what they could easily do privately, they behave like the hypocrites, not like God’s children.

A man came into my office one Sunday and told me it was his first time to worship with us and that he intended to make our church his church home. He then handed me a generous check, with the promise that I would receive one just like it every week. I told him I did not want to receive his checks personally and suggested that he should give anonymously as the rest of the church family did. If he had continued to give a large amount every Sunday, there was no good reason for him to have announced his generosity to me or to anyone else. How much better for him simply to have put the check in the offering during a service.

Sometimes, of course, the pretense does not show. Knowing that it is wrong to give ostentatiously and that fellow Christians are likely to resent it, we sometimes try to make our good works “accidentally” noticed. But even if we only want people to notice, and do nothing to attract their attention, our heart motive is to be honored by men. The real trumpet blowing, the basic hypocrisy, is always on the inside, and that is where God judges. Hypocritical righteousness, just as true righteousness, begins in the heart.

Unfortunately, many Christian organizations use un-Christian methods to motivate support of their ministries. When flamed certificates, published names of generous supporters, and other such recognitions are offered to stimulate giving, hypocrisy is promoted in the name of Christ. It is just as wrong to appeal to wrong motives as to have wrong motives. “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come,” Jesus said; “but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matt. 18:7).[2]

6:2 It seems incredible that hypocrites would noisily attract attention to themselves as they gave offerings in the synagogues or handouts to beggars in the streets. The Lord dismissed their conduct with the terse comment: “They have their reward” (i.e., their only reward is the reputation they gain while on earth).[3] 2 The “you” is singular (see comments at 5:28). While some in Jesus’ day believed almsgiving earned merit (e.g., Tob 12:8–9; Sir 3:30; 29:11–12), ostentation, not merit theology, is the point here. Jesus assumes his disciples will give alms: “When you give to the needy,” he says, not “If you give to the needy” (cf. 10:42; 25:35–45; 2 Co 9:6–7; Php 4:18–19; 1 Ti 6:18–19; Jas 1:27). Rabbinic writers also warn against ostentation in almsgiving (cf. Str-B, 1:391ff.). The frequency of the warnings attests the commonness of the practice.

The reference to trumpet announcements is difficult. Many commentators say this refers to “the practice of blowing trumpets at the time of collecting alms in the Temple for the relief of some signal need” (Hill, following Bonnard), but no Jewish sources confirm this, and the idea seems to stem only from early Christian expositors who assumed its correctness. Likewise there is no evidence (contra Calvin) that the almsgivers themselves really blew trumpets on their way to the temple. Alfred Edersheim (The Temple: Its Ministry and services [London: Religious Tract Society, n.d.], 26), followed by Jeremias (Jerusalem, 170 n. 73), suggests this is a reference to horn-shaped collection boxes used at the temple to discourage pilfering. Lachs (“Textual Observations,” 103–5), without mentioning Edersheim, has followed up on that idea by postulating a mistranslation from an underlying Semitic source. But unless the trumpet is a metaphorical caricature (like “tooting your own horn”)—a poorly attested suggestion—the solution of A. Buchler (“St. Matthew 6:1–6 and Other Allied Passages,” JTS 10 [1909]: 266–70) still seems best: public fasts were proclaimed by the sounding of trumpets. At such times, prayers for rain were recited in the streets (cf. v. 5), and it was widely thought that almsgiving ensured the efficacy of the fasts and prayers (e.g., b. Sanh. 35a; m. Taʿan 2:6; Lev. Rab. 34:14). But these occasions afforded golden opportunities for ostentation.

Lachs objects that this interpretation makes the givers pompous but not hypocrites. In older Greek a hypokritēs (“hypocrite,” GK 5695) was an actor, but by the first century the term came to be used for those who play roles and see the world as their stage. What Lachs overlooks is that there are different kinds of hypocrisy. In one the hypocrite feigns goodness but is actually evil and knows he is being deceptive (e.g., 22:15–18). In another the hypocrite is carried away by his own acting and deceives himself. Such pious hypocrites (as in 7:1–5), though unaware of their own deceit, do not fool most onlookers, and this may be the meaning here. A third kind of hypocrite deceives himself into thinking he is acting for the best interests of God and man and also deceives onlookers. The needy are unlikely to complain when they receive large gifts, and their gratitude may flatter and thus bolster the giver’s self-delusion (cf. D. A. Spieler, “Hypocrisy: An Exploration of a Third Type,” AUSS 13 [1975]: 273–79). Perhaps it is best to identify the hypocrisy in v. 2 with this third type.

The Pharisees’ great weakness was that they loved human praise more than God’s praise (cf. Jn 5:44; 12:43). Those who give out of this attitude receive their reward in full (such is the force of apechousin [GK 600]; cf. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 110–11). They win human plaudits, and that is all they get (cf. Ps 17:14).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 134). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 354–356). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1223). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 197–198). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 5 – LANGUAGE IS INADEQUATE

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

—Exodus 3:5

I will endeavor to discuss the holiness of God, the Holy One. We cannot comprehend it, and we certainly cannot define it.

Holiness means purity, but “purity” doesn’t describe it well enough. Purity merely means that it is unmixed, with nothing else in it. But that isn’t enough. We talk of moral excellency, but that isn’t adequate. To be morally excellent is to exceed someone else in moral character. But when we say that God is morally excellent, who is it that He exceeds? The angels, the seraphim? Surely He does—but that still isn’t enough. We mean rectitude; we mean honor; we mean truth and righteousness; we mean all of these—uncreated and eternal….

Language cannot express the holy, so God resorts to association and suggestion. He cannot say it outright because He would have to use words for which we know no meaning….

God cannot tell us by language, so He uses association and suggestion and shows how holiness affects the unholy. He shows Moses at the burning bush before the holy, fiery Presence, kneeling down to take his shoes from his feet, hiding his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. AOG159-160

Lord, I don’t often stop to contemplate the reality of Your holiness. Give me a glimpse of Your holiness today, even if I have to hide my face in fear. Amen. [1]


3:5 The Lord promised Moses that He would deliver His people from Egypt and bring them into a land of abundance—that is, Canaan—inhabited by the six heathen nations listed in verse 8. The word “holy” occurs here for the first time in the Bible. By removing his sandals, Moses acknowledged that the place was holy.[2]


5–6 God’s presence demands a holistic preparation of the one who aspires to enter his presence. To teach Moses this lesson, God sets up admittedly arbitrary boundaries—“Do not come any closer”—and commands that he should also remove his sandals (v. 5). This is to prevent him from rashly intruding into God’s presence and to teach him that God is separate and distinct from mortal human beings (cf. 19:10–13; 2 Pe 1:18). Because God is present, what has been ordinary becomes “holy ground” and consequently “set apart” for a distinct use. The place where sheep and goats traveled just a short time ago is transformed into “holy ground” by God’s presence. As Bush observes (Exodus, 1:44), it is not an intrinsic holiness because of the nature of the ground itself but relative only to and based on the divine appointment that remains true as long as God ordains it so. This also is the first occurrence of the noun “holy” in Scripture (cf. Ge 2:3 for the verbal form).

When the condition for meeting God is satisfied, the Lord reveals himself. He identifies himself as the “God of your father” (v. 6; collective singular—see Ge 26:24; 31:5, 42, 53; 43:23; 46:1, 3; 49:25; 50:17; Ex 15:2; 18:4 for a similar formula). Of course, the plural form “God of your fathers” appears more frequently (cf. also Stephen’s use of the plural in Acts 7:32), but the collective singular also has a special point in that it is through the one man of promise (ultimately, the Messiah himself) that the many are to receive God’s blessing. Thus God assures Moses that the God of his father has not forsaken his repeated word of promise (Ge 15:1–21; 26:2–5; 35:1–12) or his people, and he will certainly be with Moses in the commission he is about to receive. (On Moses’ fear of “looking” at God, see comment on 24:9–10.)[3]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 91). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, p. 365). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 5 – Trials’ Lessons: Humility

“To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.”

2 Corinthians 12:7

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God sometimes uses trials to humble believers.

Professional athletics, as a whole, makes up one of the least humble sectors in modern American society. Players with multi–million dollar salaries and extravagant benefits have replaced those who played because they loved their sport and had great community loyalty.

One such noble model from the past was Lou Gehrig, the Hall of Fame first baseman with the New York Yankees, whose career ended in 1939 after he was stricken with a rare and always fatal neuromuscular disease. Throughout his ordeal, Gehrig conducted himself with dignity and humility, all of which culminated on July 4, 1939, before a capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium, with millions more listening on the radio. He concluded his special remarks on “Lou Gehrig Day” with this amazing statement: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” He died approximately two years later.

Shouldn’t those who seek to serve and glorify God react in similar fashion if confronted by the same kind of trial? They will if they remember that He sometimes sends trials to humble His children and remind them they are not to be overconfident in their own spiritual strength (Rom. 12:3).

Today’s verse tells us God allowed Paul to be plagued by some sort of chronic, painful problem, “a messenger of Satan.” This likely refers to a man who led the opposition to Paul at the church in Corinth. When we are greatly blessed spiritually—Paul saw the risen Christ several times and was even taken up into the third heaven—the Lord sometimes allows “a thorn in the flesh” to afflict us, that we might remain humble. Whenever we are besieged by such trials and come to the point where all strength seems gone, God’s Word reminds us, as it did Paul, “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I [Paul] will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to remind you throughout the day of your humble dependence on Him, whether or not you are going through a trial.

For Further Study: Read James 4:6–10 and 1 Peter 5:5–7. What do these passages say is the key to genuine humility?[1]


God Uses Suffering to Make Believers Humble

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! (12:7)

The evidence of Paul’s success in ministry was the power of the gospel to transform lives that led to the churches he founded and built up. They were a monument to his faithfulness and to God’s power working through him. To see any of those churches being led astray by false teachers was a painful, humbling experience for Paul, yet one that he needed. Twice in verse 7 he emphasized that God allowed his thorn in the flesh to keep him from exalting himself. Though he was the noblest Christian of all, Paul was not impervious to the normal struggles of life. Certainly, because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations he had experienced (Acts records six visions apart from the one related in this passage; he also received the gospel he preached by revelation [Gal. 1:11–12; cf. Eph. 3:3]), pride was a constant temptation. Therefore, to keep him humble, Paul was given … a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him.

The identity of that thorn in the flesh has been much debated. Paul did not describe it in detail, indicating that the Corinthians knew what it was. Most commentators assume it was a physical ailment, such as migraines, ophthalmia, malaria, epilepsy, gallstones, gout, rheumatism, an intestinal disorder, or even a speech impediment. That such a wide range of possibilities has been put forth indicates a lack of specific support in Scripture for any of them. (Even if Paul’s words in Gal. 6:11, “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand,” indicate an eye problem, there is nothing in that verse that connects it with the apostle’s thorn in the flesh.) Skolops (thorn) could be better translated “stake,” graphically indicating the intensity of the suffering it caused Paul; it was not a small thorn but a large stake.

The apostle acknowledged that the thorn in the flesh ultimately was given to him from God. (See Job 1 and 2, where God permitted Satan to afflict Job for His own purposes; cf. Gen. 50:20.) The phrase in the flesh could also be rendered “for” or “because of the flesh.” Flesh should be understood here not in a physical sense, but in a moral sense as a reference to Paul’s unredeemed humanness (cf. Rom. 6:19; 7:5, 18, 25; 8:4–9). The Lord allowed Paul’s intense suffering to impale his otherwise proud flesh; to humble the one who had so many revelations.

It is best to understand Paul’s thorn as a demonic messenger of Satan sent to torment him by using the deceivers to seduce the Corinthians into a rebellion against him. At least four lines of evidence support that interpretation. First, in the overwhelming majority of its uses in the New Testament (including every other occurrence in Paul’s writings), angelos (messenger) refers to angels. An angel sent from Satan would, of course, be a demon. Second, the verb translated torment always refers to harsh treatment from someone (Matt. 26:67; Mark 14:65; 1 Cor. 4:11; 1 Peter 2:20). Third, the Old Testament sometimes refers metaphorically to opponents as thorns (e.g., Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Judg. 2:3; Ezek. 28:24). Finally, the verb translated leave in verse 8 is always used in the New Testament to speak of someone departing. Likely, then, the demonic messenger was tormenting Paul by being the indwelling spirit in the leading false apostle (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13–15; 1 Tim. 4:1). Again, this is consistent with Paul’s testimony that his severest suffering came from his concern for the church (11:28–29).

Satan’s assault on Paul did not take place outside of God’s will. God is sovereign over all of His creation and will use even the forces of the kingdom of darkness to accomplish His righteous purposes (cf. Num. 22:2–24:25; 1 Kings 22:19–23; Luke 22:31–32). Paul was critical to God’s redemptive plan, and He would keep him humble by whatever means necessary, including using a demon. If this seems unusual, remember the accounts of Job (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7) and Peter (Luke 22:31). In both cases God allowed Satan to bring devastating suffering on His saints to achieve their greater usefulness. This is a good reminder of the foolishness of those who try to tell Satan and demons what to do and where to go. If we could command demons, we might thwart the purposes of God with our faulty assumptions.[2]


12:7 This whole section is a most accurate description of the life of a servant of Christ. It has its moments of deep humiliation, such as the event at Damascus. Then it has its mountain top experiences, such as Paul’s exhilarating revelation. But normally after a servant of the Lord has enjoyed one of these experiences, the Lord allows him to suffer some thorn in the flesh. That is what we have here.

We learn many priceless lessons from this verse. First, it is proof that even divine revelations of the Lord do not correct the flesh in us. Even after the apostle had listened to the language of Paradise, he still had the old nature, and was in danger of falling into the snare of pride. As R. J. Reid has said:

“A man in Christ” is safe in the presence of God as he listens to the untranslatable things spoken in paradise, but he needs “a thorn in the flesh” upon his return to earth, for the flesh in him would boast of his paradise experience.

What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? All we can say for sure is that it was some bodily trial which God allowed to come into his life. No doubt the Lord purposely failed to specify exactly what the thorn was so that tried and tested saints down through the years might feel a closer kinship with the apostle as they suffer. Perhaps it was some form of eye disease, perhaps an earache, perhaps malaria, perhaps migraine headaches, perhaps something connected with Paul’s speech. Moorehead states: “The precise nature of it has been concealed perhaps that all afflicted ones may be encouraged and helped by Paul’s unnamed yet painful experience.”48 Our trials may be very different from Paul’s, but they should produce the same exercise and fruits.

The apostle describes the thorn in the flesh as a messenger of Satan to buffet him. In one sense it represented an effort on Satan’s part to hinder Paul in the work of the Lord. But God is greater than Satan, and He used the thorn to further the work of the Lord by keeping Paul humble. Successful service for Christ depends on a weak servant. The weaker he is, the more the power of Christ accompanies his preaching.[3]


7 Others might be tempted, “because of these surpassingly great revelations” accorded to Paul, to form an estimate of him that outstripped the evidence (cf. v. 6b). But he himself was in no such danger. To keep him from becoming conceited (or overly elated; see Notes) there was given him a thorn in his flesh. Two inferences are fair: (1) The agent implied by edothē (“there was given,” GK 1443; cf. the “theological passives” in vv. 2, 4) is God. This is confirmed by the fact that the “thorn” (skolops, GK 5022; see Notes) was given to achieve a beneficial purpose—the prevention of spiritual conceit—and that Paul requested the Lord for the departure of the messenger (v. 8). (2) The “thorn” was given immediately or shortly after the vision described in vv. 2–4.

It is significant that in vv. 7–10 Paul speaks of himself in the first person (cf. vv. 2–5); his reputation was in no danger of being illegitimately enhanced (cf. v. 6) by describing the outcome of the vision!

The efforts that have been made to identify Paul’s “thorn” are legion. The recurring suggestions may be grouped under three broad headings: (1) spiritual or psychological anxiety (such as anguish over Israel’s stubborn unbelief [P. H. Menoud]); (2) opposition to his ministry or message (a single opponent [T. Y. Mullins] or opponents in general [M. L. Barré]); and (3) a physical malady, whether unspecified as to its nature (C. H. Dodd and I) or specified (such as malaria [W. M. Ramsay], Malta fever [W. M. Alexander], or migraine headaches [U. Heckel]). But paucity of information and the obscurity of Paul’s language have frustrated all attempts to solve this enigmatic problem. In fact, had Paul revealed what his skolops was, Christians of succeeding generations who lacked his particular affliction or disability would have tended to find his experience (vv. 8–10) irrelevant. As it is, countless believers have been helped by his reference to his “thorn.”

It is remarkable that Paul could regard his affliction as given by God and yet as “a messenger of Satan.” This may support the view that the affliction was some type of physical malady, because in 1 Corinthians 5:5 (cf. 1 Co 11:30; 1 Ti 1:20) Satan appears as God’s agent for the infliction of disciplinary illness (cf. Job 2:1–10). Certainly a recurrent and tormenting malady could be considered “a messenger of Satan,” for it might bring Paul within the shadow of death (cf. 2 Co 1:8–9) or hinder the advance of the gospel either by arousing the contempt of his hearers (cf. Gal 4:13–14) or by so incapacitating him that traveling plans were frustrated. Be that as it may, behind any and every machination of Satan Paul could discern the overarching providence of a God who perpetually creates good out of evil.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 400–401). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1865). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 532–533). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 5 – Resurrection Power

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.

Philippians 3:10

Jesus Christ’s resurrection most graphically demonstrated the extent of His power. That’s the kind of power the apostle Paul wanted to experience because He realized he was helpless to overcome sin on his own.

The resurrection power of Christ deals with sin at our salvation. We experience His resurrection might at salvation. We were buried with Christ in His death, and we rose with Him to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

But to defeat sin daily, we need His resurrection power to be our resource. We need His strength to serve Him faithfully, to conquer temptation, to overcome trials, and to witness boldly. Only as we build our relationship with Christ and tap into His might will we have victory over sin in this life.[1]


Power

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection (3:10a)

Paul had already mentioned the deep, experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ that comes at salvation (v. 8). But still the cry of his heart was that I may know Him. That initial saving knowledge of Christ became the basis of Paul’s lifelong pursuit of an ever deeper knowledge of His Savior. Specifically, Paul longed to experience the power of His resurrection. He knew there was no power in the Law. He also knew there was no power in his flesh to overcome sin or serve God (cf. Rom. 7:18). But because he knew Christ and had His righteousness imputed to him, Paul had been given the Holy Spirit and the same spiritual power that raised Jesus from the dead.

His resurrection was the greatest display of Christ’s power. Rising from the dead (cf. John 2:19–21; 10:17–18) revealed His absolute power over both the physical and spiritual realms (cf. Col. 2:14–15; 1 Peter 3:18–20). Paul experienced Christ’s resurrection power in two ways. First, it was that power that saved him, a truth he affirmed in Romans 6:4–5: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” In salvation, believers are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. But more than that, it is Christ’s resurrection power that sanctified him (and all believers) to defeat temptation and trials, lead a holy life, and boldly and fruitfully proclaim the gospel. Paul gladly exchanged his impotence for Christ’s resurrection power, and desired to experience its fullness.[2]


That I may know Him. To know Him means to gain practical day-by-day acquaintance with Him in such an intimate way that the apostle himself would become more Christlike. He wants the life of Christ to be reproduced in himself.

And the power of His resurrection. The power that raised the Lord from the dead is set forth in Scripture as the greatest display of might which the universe has ever seen (Eph. 1:19, 20). It would seem as if all the hosts of evil were determined to keep His body in the tomb. God’s mighty power defeated this infernal army by raising the Lord Jesus from the dead on the third day. This same power is placed at the disposal of all believers (Eph. 1:19), to be appropriated by faith. Paul is stating his ambition to experience this power in his life and testimony.[3]


10 Paul understands that knowledge of God only comes from knowing Christ, whom God raised from the dead (Koperski, 236). “To know Christ” is akin to putting trust in him (Ps 9:10) and being loyal to him (Jer 2:8; 9:2–3). Putting trust in Christ is for Paul the same thing as putting trust in God. He assumes that one becomes like the one who is known, so that one is willing to forgo privileges and entitlements and undergo suffering and death. Knowing Christ is not some sublime, cerebral enlightenment but something that is experiential. For him it means becoming Christ’s slave, loving others as Christ did, and giving of himself as Christ did.

The “power of his resurrection” may refer to the influence that the risen Christ exerts on the believer, but it more likely refers to the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph 1:19–20). Paul’s belief that Christ’s resurrection was the firstfruits and that those who belong to Christ will be raised with him (1 Co 15:20–28) drives his reversal of values and reordering of priorities. The difference is between placing one’s confidence in the flesh and placing one’s trust in the hope of the transformation of the flesh.

Paul makes clear that experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection is accompanied by participating in his suffering and death (Ro 8:17; cf. 1 Co 15:30–31; 2 Co 1:5; 4:8–11; Gal 6:17; Col 1:24; 2 Ti 2:10). God’s power and protection of his people do not prevent them from bearing the cost of holding fast to the gospel in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Php 2:15–16). They must experience the weight of the cross before they taste the power of the resurrection (cf. George R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation [NCB; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1974], 181). Paul understands from Christ’s example that one only finds life by pouring it out for others, just as Christ poured out his life (cf. Stagg, 207). Resurrection is placed first because one will not be able to put suffering and death in proper perspective unless one is first convinced that God conquered death by raising Jesus from the dead (1 Co 15:12–28). Paul is no masochist and does not rejoice in suffering for its own sake. It only brings him joy because it is “certain evidence of his intimate relationship with his Lord” (Fee, 333). His aim is not to suffer but to become Christlike in suffering—being obedient to death and dying for others. Being conformed (symmorphizō, GK 5214; NIV, “becoming like”) to Christ’s death (Ro 6:5; 2 Ti 2:11) will result in being conformed (symmorphos, GK 5215; NIV, “like”) to his glorious resurrected body (3:21).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 142). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 238–239). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1973). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 242–243). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.