Daily Archives: May 23, 2017

May 23, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 23, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to combat the “ideology” behind Britain’s worst terrorist attack in 12 years after a suicide bombing killed 22 people at a Grande’s pop concert. At least 59 people were wounded and taken to eight hospitals in the city, some with life-threatening injuries. Islamic State claimed responsibility.

President Donald Trump would dramatically reduce the U.S. government’s role in society with $3.6 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years in a budget plan that shrinks the safety net for the poor, recent college graduates and farmers.

The White House plan to trim the national debt includes selling off half of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile, part of a broad series of changes proposed by President Donald Trump to the federal government’s role in energy markets.

The hearing on the proposed border-adjustment tax that has split corporate America for months is finally happening, but the measure may be further than ever from reality.

South Korea’s military fired warning shots across the military demarcation line at an unidentified object flying on Tuesday afternoon, as tensions remained high on the peninsula days after another North Korea missile test.

Cybersecurity researchers at Symantec Corp. and FireEye Inc. have uncovered more evidence tying this month’s WannaCry global ransomware attacks to North Korea.

On July 1, as India rolls out its landmark national sales tax, businesses that make less than 100 million rupees — which the government refers to as micro, small and medium enterprises — will all have to digitize. The firms, often accused of conducting business mostly in cash and evading taxes by under-reporting income, will for the first time have to report every transaction, creating an online trail for the tax office.

A firm hired by the U.S. to distribute $4 billion to victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has racked up $38.8 million in billings over four years. The investors are still waiting for their first checks, though.

In the past 30 days, about 40 percent of the Midwest got twice the amount of normal rainfall, with soils saturated from Arkansas to Ohio, according to MDA Weather Services. While spring showers usually benefit crops, the precipitation has come fast enough to flood some corn and rice fields and trigger quality concerns about maturing wheat.

AP Top Stories

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly had to order his cabinet to meet visiting US President Donald Trump at a welcoming reception after several ministers refused to attend.

An American physician died over the weekend while attempting to summit Earth’s highest peak. Dr. Roland Yearwood was nearing the peak of Mount Everest when he died Sunday in the so-called “death zone” where air becomes perilously thin.

Egyptian authorities say they caught looters digging up an ancient stone block carved with an image of a pharaoh.

Donald Trump made by history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit the sacred Western Wall, vowing to try and secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The President wore a traditional yarmulke as he pressed his right hand against the wall, highly sacred to Jews, and closed his eyes. Later, he said it had been a “great honor”.

India announced Tuesday it had fired mortars at Pakistani army posts across their disputed border in Kashmir, a rare public disclosure of such a pre-emptive assault against its neighbor.

Iran accused the United States on Monday of selling arms to “dangerous terrorists” in the Middle East and of spreading “Iranophobia” aimed at encouraging Arab states to purchase arms, state television reported.

North Korea successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile Sunday, the reclusive country said Monday in a statement, also indicating advances in its ambitions to attack the United States. However, South Korea’s military also said Monday that the missile – called the Pukguksong-2 – which was fired the previous day, is a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with a range of up to 1,500 miles.

BBC

Two men have been caned 83 times each in the Indonesian province of Aceh after being caught having sex. The men stood on stage in white gowns praying while a team of hooded men lashed their backs with a cane.

A 22-year-old woman from Mexico’s Tarahumara indigenous community has won a 31 mile ultramarathon wearing sandals. She ran without any professional gear, and her pair of sandals was reportedly made from recycled tire rubber.

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife, Nicola, have announced they will give $298m to charity. PM Malcolm Turnbull said the donation was “the biggest single philanthropic gift” in the nation’s history, and the largest by a living Australian.

South Africa’s Western Cape province has declared a drought disaster as it faces its worst water shortage in 113 years.

Munich police say they have broken up a huge burglary clan which they estimate may have been responsible for a fifth of German break-ins. The three young women originally arrested attracted attention for the skill and speed with which they were carrying out a burglary in the Munich area of Lehe. Police went on to arrest another 20 young women in Munich, whom they dubbed “worker bees”, along with two alleged gang “middle managers” in western Germany and two alleged leaders in Croatia.

WND

A government expert predicts there will be some 9,000 new commercial satellites alone launched over the next 10 years, enabling access to massive new databases of imagery, weather information, communications, missile monitoring and more. Over the last 10 years, there have been fewer than 1,500 such projects launched.


The Briefing 05-23-17

Why have college commencements become so contentious? The real ambition behind the coercion

Hunger, poverty, and politics: The tragic political realities behind a starving Venezuela

The last performance of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the end of an American era

The post The Briefing 05-23-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/23/2017

EU SUPERSTATE: Brussels ‘to force EVERY member state to adopt euro by 2025’
BRUSSELS officials want every European Union country to be using the euro by 2025, a bombshell new report has claimed. The move, revealed by German publication Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, who obtained a leaked copy of a Comission report, is likely to be fiercely opposed by Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic’s eurosceptic governments.

China ‘demands North Korea curbs aggression & submits to UN sanctions’ after missile test
In a statement, Chinese foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “We urge North Korea to not do anything to again violate UN Security Council resolutions. “At the same time, we hope all parties can maintain restraint, not be influenced by every single incident…

North Korea ‘highly likely to be involved in WannaCry cyber attack that rocked the NHS’
Symantec Corp, a cyber security company, claim their researchers found multiple instances of code that had been used in both the early versions of WannaCry and a hacking group associated with North Korea.

North Korea nuclear attack: Japan to enhance missile defences
RAYTHEON Co and Lockheed Martin Corp are working with Japanese companies on rival projects to develop new radars that will enhance Japan’s shield against any North Korean missile strike….As nuclear-armed Pyongyang builds ever more advanced missiles with the ability to strike anywhere in Japan, Tokyo is likely to fund a ground version of the ship-based Aegis defence system deployed on warships in the Sea of Japan, other sources had said earlier.

Apparent suicide bomber at Ariana Grande concert in England kills 22
The explosion struck near the exit around 10:30 p.m. Monday as Grande was ending the concert, part of her Dangerous Woman Tour. Police cars, bomb-disposal units and 60 ambulances raced to the scene as the scale of the carnage became clear. More than 400 officers were deployed.

Trump on Mideast peace: ‘It’s a tough deal, but we will get there’
One small sign of that progress was Trump flying directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv, in what is widely believed to be the first public flight between the two cities. After two days of talks in Saudi Arabia with Saudi King Salman and other Arab and Muslim leaders, Trump said that “tremendous progress has been made” in relations between Israel and the Saudis

‘Trump made no mention of two-state solution’
“The president didn’t mention two-states in his Bethlehem statements, just peace,” said Revivi, who also serves as the Mayor of the city of Efrat. “We hope this means that we have moved on from this failed policy and will now work together to build true and lasting peace from the ground-up.”

Vietnam, Indonesia vessels clash in South China Sea
Indonesia’s Maritime and Fisheries Ministry said Tuesday that Vietnam is holding an Indonesian fisheries officer, who was aboard one of the Vietnamese vessels, and Indonesia has 11 Vietnamese crew members in its custody.

Assad retakes Homs, capital of the Syrian revolution
After more than five year of fighting, Syrian rebels leave last opposition district in Homs, completing a deal that brought the whole besieged city back under President Bashar Assad’s control for the first time since the start of the civil war.

Trump Insider Hints on “Historic” Visit: “There Are Always Surprises”
“He is setting history and breaking precedents for the better wherever he goes,” Zell said. “His speech in Riyadh was extraordinary: a courageous speech I can’t imagine any other president making. He returned America to the world stage as a superpower.”

Mystic Rabbis Explain Hidden Spiritual Truth of Trump’s Momentous Visit to Israel
“Just as a foundation establishes what will follow, for good or bad, the real nature of Trump’s visit will not become clear for some time,” Rabbi Glazerson said. “This could be the setting of the foundation for the Temple, but what will actually come out of it depends on Israel’s attachment to Torah and mitzvoth (commandments).

In Bethlehem, Abbas and Trump speak of Mideast peace prospects
Speaking alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said he wants to achieve a conflict-ending deal between Israel and the Palestinians. “I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Trump told a press conference at the PA headquarters in Bethlehem, without mentioning the possibility of Palestinian statehood. “I intend to do everything I can to help [Abbas and Netanyahu] achieve that goal.”

ISIS claims responsibility for Manchester blast as leaders condemn attack
Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a terror attack that killed at least 22 people Monday night outside an Ariana Grande concert in the British city of Manchester. According to Israeli media, ISIS said in a video they posted online that “This is just the beginning.” Meanwhile, world leaders condemned the deadly attack and extended their condolences to the victims and their families.

South Africa’s Western Cape declares drought disaster
South Africa’s Western Cape province has declared a drought disaster as it faces its worst water shortage in 113 years. Provincial leader Helen Zille said water will be harvested by drilling boreholes to serve key points like hospitals in Cape Town. The alert will last for three months but could be extended if the crisis persists, she said in a statement. Southern African nations are reeling from a two-year drought.

US forces kill seven al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, says Pentagon
US forces have carried out a raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen, killing seven militants, the US military says. They were killed “through a combination of small arms fire and precision air strikes” in the Marib governorate, east of Sanaa, on Tuesday morning. The primary objective of the operation was to gather intelligence.

Greece fails to secure fresh bailout funds
Greece has failed to secure a deal to unlock the next instalment of its multi-billion-dollar bailout after talks with eurozone finance ministers broke down. Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there was still a gap “between what could be done and what some of us had expected should be done”. Nonetheless, he said they were “very close” to an agreement.

Terror in Manchester: 3,500 potential terrorists & 400 ISIS fighters back from Syria in UK
THE number of potential terrorists being watched in the UK at the time of the Manchester bombing has swelled to nearly 3,500 – but our security services are using powers to monitor them LESS than they did a year ago…Latest figures show the 3,000 potential terrorists monitored since 2015 has grown after the return of UK-born people who left to fight with ISIS. About 400 ISIS-trained fighters are believed to have returned from war zones in Syria and Iraq.

Trump Seeks $3.6 Trillion in Cuts to Reshape Government
President Donald Trump would dramatically reduce the U.S. government’s role in society with $3.6 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years in a budget plan that shrinks the safety net for the poor, recent college graduates and farmers. Trump’s proposal, to be released Tuesday, claims to balance the budget within a decade. But it relies on a tax plan for which the administration has provided precious little detail, the elimination of programs backed by many Republican lawmakers, and heavy use of accounting gimmicks.

An historic day at the Western Wall
US President Donald Trump stood alone in a rare moment of solitude before the Western Wall on Monday. He wore a black kippa and placed one hand on the ancient weathered stones, standing there in that pose for half a minute. When the contemplative moment was over, he placed a note in one of the Wall’s crevices and then walked backward for a few steps.

Exclusive: U.S., Japanese firms collaborating on new missile defense radars – sources
Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp are working with Japanese partners on rival projects to develop new radars that will enhance Japan’s shield against any North Korean missile strike, government and defense industry sources in Tokyo told Reuters. As nuclear-armed Pyongyang builds ever more advanced missiles with the ability to strike anywhere in Japan, Tokyo is likely to fund a ground version of the ship-based Aegis defense system deployed on warships in the Sea of Japan, other sources had said earlier.

Podesta Received 35 Million from Russia Advising Clinton-Obama
John Podesta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 national campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

Mark Zuckerberg: We Need a ‘Global Superstructure to Advance Humanity’
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated his belief that the world is in need of a “global superstructure” in a recent article from the New York Times Magazine.

Trump Officially Removes Obama’s Gun Ban from Social Security Administration Federal Code 
The insane ban allowed the SSA to strip recipients of their Second Amendment Rights without due process. It allowed the SSA to investigate those who required help managing finances. These recipients were subject to a broad mental health analysis. It included treatable and temporary issues “like anxiety and depression to major issues like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

CNN: “Obama Was the Next Best Thing to Jesus”
Last month, CNN’s political commentator Angela Rye compared former President Barack Obama to Jesus Christ. Yes, the Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, performed miracles, and rose from the dead. “Barack Obama had to be the next best thing to Jesus and here we are, just two months in and some change, there is issue after issue.”

Republicans Go to Jail, Democrats Run Free
How odd: During the eight years of one of America’s shadiest presidencies, not one Obama administration official went to prison. Or was convicted of a crime. Or even indicted. Sure, Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held plenty of hearings. But while they called countless press conferences, not one Democrat ever was held accountable for the numerous crimes exposed by this and other Republican-controlled congressional panels.

WATCH: Your Child ‘Belongs to the State’: Lawmakers Claim the State Owns Your Child
Legislators in Texas have been working toward passing a host of laws to reform the state’s Child Protective Services agency. New legislation has been crafted to improve the agency which has seen multiple dilemmas resulting in detrimental safety problems for children in the state. There have been several bills introduced this year aimed at improving the agency. One bill, in particular, House Bill 39, seeks in part to require medical exams to be performed more quickly on children who have been newly placed into the foster care system.


It Is Time To Put The ‘Limited’ Back In Limited Government – And Abolishing The EPA Is A Good Place To Start

The constitutional republic that our founders intended to create has become a monster, and it is time to tame that monster and restore the federal government to its proper size and scope. The left loves big government, because it allows them to impose their progressive vision of how the world should work on all the rest of us. This is why so many control freaks are drawn to liberal politics like moths to a flame. Power and control are very addicting drugs, and those that crave these things on the left are never satisfied. That is one of the reasons why the federal government just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. If our constitutional republic is going to survive, we have got to start putting the “limited” back in limited government. (Read More…)


Over The Last 10 Years The U.S. Economy Has Grown At EXACTLY The Same Rate As It Did During The 1930s

Even though I write about our ongoing long-term economic collapse every day, I didn’t realize that things were this bad.  In this article, I am going to show you that the average rate of growth for the U.S. economy over the past 10 years is exactly equal to the average rate that the U.S. economy grew during the 1930s.  Perhaps this fact shouldn’t be that surprising, because we already knew that Barack Obama was the only president in the entire history of the United States not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent.  Of course the mainstream media continues to push the perception that the U.S. economy is in “recovery mode”, but the truth is that this current era has far more in common with the Great Depression than it does with times of great economic prosperity. (Read More…)


Shock As President Trump In Israel Blows Off Promise To Move Embassy To Jerusalem Saying ‘That’s A Good One’

Shortly after landing in Ben Gurion Airport Monday afternoon, President Trump shook hands with members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Zechariah 12:3 (KJV)

While most cabinet members made do with a simple “Hello, Mr. President”, “Welcome to Israel”, or other pleasantries, Bennett took the opportunity to make a personal, if brief, appeal to the president to make good on his 2016 campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel.

“Welcome to Israel. It’s Jerusalem’s birthday, you know – 50 years,” Bennett told the president. “This is the time to recognize Jerusalem.”

Trump responded to Bennett saying, “That’s a good one…” before moving on. You can read the rest of the story here on the  IsraeliNationalNews.com website.

Hmm, interesting comment for the president to make, “that’s a good one”. Out of all the comments he could have said, that is the one comment, that in my mind, comes as close to “I’ve decided not to keep my campaign promise to move the embassy” as you can possibly get. True, you never know what Trump will do as we witnessed in the Comey firing, but as far as ominous signs go, this one bodes not well.

It is a far cry from his oft-repeated campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the same as the capital city of Israel, as we see here below:

Not only that, not once during his two day stay in the Holy Land have I heard President Trump utter a single sentence of support for Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel. If you have a link to a story or video showing him vocalizing support for Jerusalem and Israel, please post it in the comments section below.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995

For those of you who don’t know The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was sponsored by Sen. Bob Dole, signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton, and became enacted on November 8, 1995. The act stipulates that Jerusalem “should remain an undivided city” and “should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”

The law further states that the above should occur no later than May 31, 1999 – but adds the famous “presidential waiver” clause allowing the president to suspend the law’s implementation for six months “if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

All three presidents since then – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – have availed themselves of this privilege, and the embassy has remained in Tel Aviv. Donald Trump campaigned hard on the promise that he would be the president who would finally buck the status quo and actually move the Embassy to Jerusalem. And this is where things get interesting.

On June 1, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 will automatically take effect unless President Trump moves to stop it

As of the time of this writing, President Trump is physically in the nation of Israel, visiting Jerusalem. Is it possible he will make the announcement to move the Embassy to Jerusalem? Yes, it is possible though not likely probable. As previously stated, he has yet to utter word one regarding Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israel”.

But in exactly 9 days from today, on June 1st, the move to finally authorize the switch to Jerusalem will automatically be triggered. All Trump has to do is nothing, just let it happen. This is something that all presidents over the past 22 years did not have the guts to do. At the last second, they all signed the waiver to delay it for another 6 months.

In exactly 9 days from today, the world will know if Donald Trump is the true “agent of change” he promised to be, by allowing the waiver stopping the Embassy transfer to expire. But if he signs a new waiver, then you may rightly expect he will never authorize the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

If President Trump doesn’t fulfill the very promise that allowed him to win against all odds, if America refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then you would have to ask a very serious and sobering question. And that very simply is this.

What does God need America for anyway, and why should He continue to preserve us, if we cannot acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?


May 23, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Like most people inexperienced in the conduct of governmental affairs, President Donald Trump has not yet developed the frame of mind required to govern his use of words so that his statements take account of the complex responsibilities of his office…. (more)

May 22, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — The Washington Post, a mouthpiece for Obama holdovers in the CIA and other agencies, reports that “sources” say a current White House official is under investigation as “a significant person of interest” in Russia-gate, but that the sources “would not further identify the official.” This is a case of anonymous officials talking about an anonymous official…. (more)

May 22, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — One of the side effects of the anti-Trump liberal media propaganda is that many conservatives automatically jump to the President’s defense, even as he continues on a suicidal course, such as a scheduled Thursday meeting with news anchors. This is like a bleeding man jumping into the water with sharks, enticing them to engage in a feeding frenzy…. (more)

May 22, 2017
GARTH KANT — The formula for a de facto coup against President Trump is pretty simple and it’s happening before our very eyes, according to one of the nation’s top scholars and most esteemed political analysts. And evidence for that theory is backed up by equally renowned political observers…. (more)

May 21, 2017

NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump’s speech garnered wide-ranging praise Sunday for a speech urging Islam to “drive out” terrorists – – including comparisons to former President Ronald Reagan’s iconic speech to “tear down that wall” in Berlin…. (more)


May 21, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants the Justice Department to grant an ethics rule waiver to allow former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign…. (more)


May 21, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — Republicans in Washington, D.C., are fiercely lining up behind Sen. Luther Strange in this year’s special election to finish the U.S. Senate term of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the nation’s best known state judge says he is ready to battle big GOP dollars in the primary and defend the Constitution in Washington…. (more)

May 21, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — A manager of the Washington, D.C., bar where Democratic National Committee worker Seth Rich was last spotted hours before he was shot and killed last summer told WND that D.C. police officers never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested any evidence from the bar, including the bar’s surveillance video from that night, as part of an investigation into Rich’s murder…. (more)

May 20, 2017

CNBC — The Senate Intelligence Committee said ousted FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify in an open session. The committee said in a late Friday statement that it plans to schedule the hearing for after Memorial Day. The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and any possible links between Moscow and the Trump campaign…. (more)


May 20, 2017

BOB UNRUH — The Washington watchdog Judicial Watch is challenging the judgment of Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief who just this week was picked to head up a special investigation into alleged collusion by the Trump campaign with the Russian government in the 2016 presidential race…. (more)


May 20, 2017
NEWSMAX — If Robert Mueller ignores the political rhetoric that’s been spewed by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and focuses strictly on the law and his mandate, then several members of President Obama’s administration could ultimately be targeted in this inquiry…. (more)

May 20, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — According to a portion of a memorandum the New York Times has reported on but not seen, President Trump told then – -FBI director James Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go” – – an apparent reference to the FBI’s criminal investigation of retired general Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser. The president is said to have made this remark in a private meeting with Comey at the White House on February 14 – – the day after Flynn resigned under pressure…. (more)

May 20, 2017

BYRON YORK — How negative was press coverage of President Trump’s first 100 days in office? Far more than that of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton, according to a new report from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy…. (more)


May 20, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — White House aides organized an official Twitter invention a few weeks ago in an attempt to explain to President Trump why his all-around-the-clock and sometimes baseless tweets are working against him, according to a report published late Friday…. (more)

May 20, 2017

CBS NEW YORK — From congressman to confessed felon, Anthony Weiner’s fall from grace hit rock bottom on Friday. In a surprise turn of events, Weiner admitted to a federal sex crime. As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, his estranged wife Huma Abedin put even further distance between them…. (more)


May 20, 2017

THE HACKER NEWS — If your PC has been infected by WannaCry – – the ransomware that wreaked havoc across the world last Friday – – you might be lucky to get your locked files back without paying the ransom of $300 to the cyber criminals. Adrien Guinet, a French security researcher from Quarkslab, has discovered a way to retrieve the secret encryption keys used by the WannaCry ransomware for free, which works on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and 2008 operating systems…. (more)


May 19, 2017

NEWSMAX — The U.S. military carried out an airstrike Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to U.S.-backed fighters in the country’s south, U.S. officials told Reuters…. (more)


May 19, 2017
ART MOORE — Under the Obama administration, the Department of Homeland Security invited the Council on American-Islamic Relations to help develop its counter-terrorism policy, even though the Justice Department had implicated CAIR in a plot to finance the terrorist organization Hamas…. (more)

May 19, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Now anything goes. All restraints are loosened, all self-discipline trashed. There’s no cure or even treatment for Trump Derangement Syndrome, a disease as wild and as swiftly lethal as anything imported from the Ebola River valley of the dark continent. The rules and taboos that once guided even the sleaziest excuse for a newspaper no longer apply…. (more)

May 19, 2017
REAL CLEAR POLITICS — In an interview with Sean Hannity, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said the “deep state” within the bureaucracy is trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. “The political process of the United States of America being under attack by intelligence agencies and individuals in those agencies,” said Wednesday night…. (more)

May 19, 2017
GARTH KANT — The leak of the infamous Comey memo to the press might severely boomerang on the former FBI director, according to legal experts. Democrats are hoping newly appointed special prosecutor Robert Mueller will find President Trump committed obstruction of justice by allegedly telling former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn…. (more)

May 19, 2017
GARTH KANT — Lost in all the hubbub and furor over President Trump’s firing of James Comey is that the former FBI director never complied with key a request from the House Intelligence Committee…. (more)

May 19, 2017
NEW YORK POST — Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has died, according to reports Thursday morning. He was 77. His wife Elizabeth issued a statement announcing his death, which was confirmed by Fox News…. (more)

May 19, 2017
NEWSMAX — Chelsea Manning has posted the first photo of herself on social media a day after leaving prison, where she served seven years for releasing 75,000 documents to WikiLeaks…. (more)

May 18, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Years ago, I agreed to be interviewed for a film which was included in an exhibit for the national museum in Washington, D.C. known as the Newseum. It was on the use of anonymous sources. In the film, which is still playing, I cautioned about their use, saying that they can be inaccurate or even non-existent, and that they reduce trust in the news media…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 23, 2017

Trump’s First Visit to Israel Brings Hope

Tragically, as he was rallying for unity in fighting terror, jihadis struck again in Britain, killing 22 in a bombing attack.

The Foundation

“The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.” —Alexander Hamilton (1787)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 23

  • Children Among 22 Dead in Bomb Attack During U.K. Campaign (Read More)
  • ‘Please retweet’: Parents go online to find their children (Read More)
  • Stars from Manchester and beyond express shock at bomb attack (Read More)
  • Trump’s Budget Seeks Cuts to Taxes, Social Programs (Read More)
  • Trump Proposes Selling Off Half the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve (Read More)
  • Trump calls Nazi Holocaust ‘history’s darkest hour’ (Read More)
  • If Kushner has a Mideast peace plan, it’s a secret so far (Read More)
  • The Rise of the Amateur Oil Sleuths (Read More)
  • Trump Says U.S. Committed to Israeli and Palestinian Peace (Read More)
  • The Case That Could Doom Elizabeth Warren’s Wall Street Watchdog (Read More)
  • German Fin Min sees deal for Greece in three weeks ‘if all goes well’ (Read More)
  • Greece says lenders have moral, political, legal duty to meet obligations (Read More)
  • Only Robots Can Tally What Large U.S. Pension Fund Pays in Fees (Read More)
  • Big Brother Comes for Foreign Firms in China (Read More)
  • WannaCry Malware Has Strong Links to Group Tied to North Korea, Symantec Says (Read More)
  • The Future of Whole Foods Isn’t About Groceries (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Pastor talks to ‘God’ on the phone during church service

“I actually have a direct line which I can call Him on and get instructions on how to proceed,” claims the man who goes by the name of Pastor Talent. “I got this when I was praying and I heard a voice telling me to call direct.” So now he calls God direct and they chat on the phone.  The Citizen has a video of this guy that you won’t want to miss. Here’s the story:

Pastor Paul Sanyangore of Victory World International has claimed to have a direct phone number to heaven, after a video of him talking on the phone during a church service emerged.

In the video, the pastor can be seen holding his cellphone and responding to God’s questions, he claims.

He calls a woman from the crowd, and as she kneels down, he then starts receiving instructions from “heaven”.

“Hello, is this heaven? I have a woman here, what do you have to say about her? Oh … I should ask her who is Sibo,” he asks “heaven”. The woman then responds telling him who the said person is.

View article →

What does the Bible teach about abortion?

Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate offers eight biblical truths about abortion.  He writes:

1. The Bible teaches that a baby in the womb is alive, and is a person whom God is making. Those I know who have had an abortion all say this is the most critical issue for them. If they believed their fetus was a real person which an abortion would murder, then they would not have done it. But they all believed that at that point of development, what was inside of them doesn’t qualify as a person by their arbitrary standard.

First, it is important to note that a fetus is a human life. It is alive, and it is human, so there is really no other way to describe it (here is a graphic and info on a fetus at 12-weeks from a secular website, and it’s obviously a person). At 12 weeks, a baby has arms, fingers, eyes, and toes. He makes fists, faces, and all his organs are working, albeit still developing.

But the Bible says that before that point a fetus is a person. For example, King David declared:

My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:15–16).

Before ultrasounds, David looked inside the womb and saw God at work. Before his frame was finished, God was at work, making him. God counted David as a person, with his days numbered, before he ever saw daylight.

This truth is not limited to David. Back when God introduced himself to Moses, who wrote the first book of the Bible, God asked: “Who has made man’s mouth? Is it not I?” (Exodus 4:11).

The mouth, by the way, is formed in week 6 of a baby’s life.

View article →


Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

Boyce College professor Denny Burk has a word of advice for pastors: A wise and courageous pastor will always remember the wisdom of Solomon when exhorting his people: “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov.12:18). A good pastor is not going […]

The post Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd. appeared first on Berean Research.


Leaving the NAR Church: Morgan’s story

“Not really knowing better, I let them do a deliverance session on me. Basically, you sit in a chair, they command the demons to come up and speak, and then they get bound and cast out.” Morgan was immersed in a so-called “Deliverance Ministry,” in which he was introduced to the demons who dwelled within […]

The post Leaving the NAR Church: Morgan’s story appeared first on Berean Research.


The extreme teaching of Jennifer LeClaire

In a piece entitled “LeClaire spills ink over ‘sneaky squid spirit’ attack?” Churchwatch Central (CWC) begins by telling us that their article will show that Pentecostalism and charismaticism are enemies of each other.  CWC points out that the Pentecostal AOG in America condemned the New Order of the Latter Rain, an early charismatic movement, for […]

The post The extreme teaching of Jennifer LeClaire appeared first on Berean Research.


Brian Brodersen Now Promoting Contemplative Mysticism?

A new report says Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Brian Brodersen is an active promoter of contemplative mysticism. Last November Brodersen led the Calvary Chapel split, quit his leadership position at the Calvary Chapel Association, and  announced he is establishing a new Calvary Chapel Global Network. Today a new EmergentWatch news article reports that Brodersen is […]

The post Brian Brodersen Now Promoting Contemplative Mysticism? appeared first on Berean Research.


Dr. Michael Brown Ruins His Credibility on His Own Facebook Wall, Then Deletes All the Evidence

Steven Kozar claims that Dr. Michael Brown lost all credibility on his Facebook wall by choosing to become a “cheerleader” for false teachers. Sadly, Dr. Brown, who is a highly regarded Bible scholar and host of The Line of Fire, has declined to compare the teaching of those who teach doctrines of devils (1 Tim […]

The post Dr. Michael Brown Ruins His Credibility on His Own Facebook Wall, Then Deletes All the Evidence appeared first on Berean Research.


We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

According to Steve McCranie of Leaving Laodicea, hidden sleeper cells have found a home in the visible Church. “These certain men have crept (pareisdúō) into the church unnoticed, or by stealth.  The word means to ‘enter in craftily, under cover of darkness, like a thief,’” says McCranie. “They, like a terrorist sleeper cell, blend in […]

The post We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us appeared first on Berean Research.


A La Carte (May 23)

Today’s Kindle deals include a couple of classics and a couple of modern-day books worth reading.

Do Catholics and Protestants believe in the same Trinity?

“Many people are happy to say that Muslims and Christians believe in different gods based on what they think about Jesus. … Are the differences between Catholics and Protestants so stark that we could conclude that we believe in different gods?”

Worldliness: A Rich Person’s Problem?

“Is worldliness a problem for the rich or for the poor? For those with many possessions or few? For people who live in a western society or a developing country?”

3 Ways to Exhort the Aging

“Aging people experience progressive losses: parents, friends, colleagues, career, driver’s license, and perfect health. Then life-threatening health challenges are encountered, usually heart disease or cancer. And finally, there is the certainty of death. In these realities, though, there are implicit spiritual incentives to grow. Here are three ways to encourage and exhort the aging.”

What If I Can’t Find the Perfect Church?

I hear this question too, all the time: “Often I run across people at conferences or through e-mail who stop attending church because they can’t find the perfect church.  What if you don’t have the perfect church in your community—what should you do?”

Don’t Be a Jerk, Be a Shepherd

The heart of it: “even if the pastor must bring a confrontation, he must do it in a way that respects the person he is talking to.”

The Parable of Anthony Weiner’s iPhone

This is worth considering: “Could one of the lessons of Anthony Weiner’s fall be that we should take our digital technology more seriously as a potential stumbling block?”

The Age of Accountability

Barry York takes a look at the idea of an age of accountability at which children become morally responsible for their sin.

Flashback: 3 Priorities for Christian Parents

We know that God tells us to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord—we get that. But what does that actually look like? The priorities Paul offers to this first-century Christian church can be helpful to twenty-first century Christian parents.

The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we can become. —Phil Jenkins


Top Headlines – 5/23/2017

Rabbis for Peace urge Trump to abandon the “land for peace” policy

Trump declares ‘rare opportunity’ for peace as overseas tour stops in Israel

Trump Comes to Israel Citing a Palestinian Deal as Crucial

Donald Trump Says Peace In The Middle East Is ‘One Of The Toughest Deals’

Trump to Muslim World: If Three Faiths Join, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is Possible

Netanyahu: I will discuss ‘ways to advance peace’ with Trump

Bereft of meat, Trump declarations leave Israel with much to chew on

Full text of Netanyahu, Trump remarks in Jerusalem

Trump Isn’t the President Israel Was Hoping For

Israeli leaders boast of ‘unbreakable bond’ upon Trump’s arrival

In Israel, Trump urges new Middle East harmony but faces old suspicions

Short on time, Yad Vashem packing emotion into Trump visit

With Trump in town, right-wing leader pushes for Jerusalem recognition

Bennett’s mid-handshake message to Trump: Recognize Jerusalem

White House live feed says ‘Jerusalem, Israel’

On second day of visit, Trump to go to PA, give key address

Mix of hope and skepticism as Trump meets Abbas in Bethlehem

Israel in rare overture to Palestinians ‘at Trump request’

On plane, Tillerson says heading to ‘Tel Aviv, home of Judaism,’ sidestepping questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel

Commentary: Thanks for visiting, Donald. Now show us your real intentions

As Trump visits, rocket shot from Sinai at southern Israel

Israeli ‘Skylark’ drone slams into Lebanese territory

Trump says Iran threat bringing Arab nations closer to Israel

Trump tells Israel Iran will never have nuclear weapons

Trump says concerns about Iran driving Israel, Arab states closer

Rouhani dismisses Trump warning over Iran ‘threat’

Iran accuses U.S. of ‘Iranophobia’, arming ‘dangerous terrorists’

Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran

Rouhani says Iran’s ballistic missile programme will continue

Tensions deepen between Saudi, Iran, US after Trump visit

Iranian president calls US relations ‘a curvy road’

Iran’s President Mocks Trump’s Saudi Arabia Trip as ‘Just a Show

Trump’s visit to Saudi a ‘turning point’: King Salman

Trump’s encounter with glowing orb sets alight social media

Here’s The Deal With That Glowing Orb Trump Touched In Saudi Arabia

American oil companies deepen Saudi ties, despite rivalry

Turkey condemns U.S. over ‘aggressive’ acts against its bodyguards during Erdogan’s visit to D.C.

Turkish NBA star calls Erdogan ‘Hitler of our century’

US forces kill seven al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, says Pentagon

Syria conflict: Government regains full control of Homs

US-led coalition attacks Syrian army, Iranian-backed militia

Armageddon in Iraq? US Pastor Details ISIS Destruction of Christian City

Isis tests chemical weapons on ‘human guinea pigs’, secret documents reveal

British Jihadi brides return home after being widowed or sent back by husbands preparing last Isil stand

US pop star’s concert in Manchester ends in blood, horror

1 man likely carried out suicide attack at Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 and injuring 59: Police

Ariana Grande concert blast: Manchester Arena was packed with her young fans

Nigel Farage: UK ‘Direct Attack on Children Marks a New Low’

Ariana Grande concert ‘has the workings of jihadist terrorism’: former US law enforcement officials

Islamic State supporters celebrate Manchester attack online, no official claim

Krauthammer: Even If UK Explosion Not Terror, ISIS Succeeded In Instilling Fear

Sekulow: Anyone Want to Argue Against Trump Travel Ban After UK Attack?

Staggering number of visa overstays now biggest problem in illegal immigration

US: Nearly 740,000 foreigners overstayed visas last year

Lawmaker: Hugo Chavez’s childhood home burned by protesters

More Puerto Rico Agencies Enter Bankruptcy

Bill Introduced Allowing Cancellation Of Over $1 Trillion In Student Debt Through Bankruptcy

Trump Seeks $3.6 Trillion in Cuts to Reshape Government

‘Senators united on reining in the UN’

‘F*** Trump’ chant led by California Democratic Party Leader: What’s next?

Trump asked two intel chiefs to push back against FBI’s Russia probe – report

Trump seems to confirm Israel as source of intelligence shared with Russia

Flynn cites ‘public frenzy’ in refusal to comply with subpoena: report

U.N. agency’s dealings with North Korea on nerve gas chemical spark more concern

North Korea says ready to deploy, mass-produce new missile

China urges North Korea not to violate UN resolutions

Symantec says ‘highly likely’ North Korea group behind ransomware attacks

Chinese paper applauds anti-spy efforts after report CIA sources killed

Scientists Have Found A Way To Photograph People In 3D Through Walls Using Wi-Fi

Chinese online retailer developing one-ton delivery drones

Mark Zuckerberg: We Need a ‘Global Superstructure to Advance Humanity’

After years of planning, California is likely to roll out its earthquake warning system next year

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Shikotan, Russia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Hihifo, Tonga

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 20,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,200ft

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

Heavy Rain, Thunderstorms May Lead to Flooding in Parts of the South Through Midweek

Trump EPA transition chief laments slow progress in killing green rules

Gore says Trump can’t stop climate movement

First-Try Antibiotics Now Fail in 1 in 4 Adult Pneumonia Cases

Australian man tests positive to HIV while taking preventative drug

In ‘Enormous Success,’ Scientists Tie 52 Genes to Human Intelligence

Catholics challenge St. Louis’ ‘abortion sanctuary’ law

Gender-confirmation surgeries increase after social changes

Gay couple claim Southwest denied them family boarding privileges

Taiwan activists hope same-sex marriage ruling will be trailblazer in Asia

Indonesian police make mass arrests over ‘gay sex party’

2 men in Indonesia caned dozens of times for gay sex

Facebook flooded with ‘sextortion’ and revenge porn, files reveal

Festivals to allow revellers to test drugs before they take them

Police: Mother shot kids to ‘save them from the evils of the world’

Tampa man arrested for allegedly killing ‘neo-Nazi’ roommates who ‘disrespected’ his Muslim faith

China, Once Officially Atheist, Now Booming with Religion

False Teacher of the Day: Guillermo Maldonado

Author, Blogger Warren B. Smith Suffers Heart Attack – Please Pray for Him

Tami Breaks Free of Beth Moore: A Testimony

Chris Rosebrough reviews Jurgen Matthesius’ ad hominem attack against ChurchWatch.

Chris Rosebrough reviews Jurgen Matthesius’ ad hominem attack against ChurchWatch – part 2

African Pastor talks to ‘God’ on the phone during church service

Greeter Shot in Head After Gunman Opens Fire in Church

Turkey Accuses Imprisoned American Pastor of Giving ‘Special’ Sermons to Kurds, Report Says

 


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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How to Combat Biblical Illiteracy in the Church

“Two-thirds of young people are leaving the church largely because of unanswered questions about the Christian faith.” says Avery Foley of Answers In Genesis.  Foley has some good suggestions as to what we can do about this crisis in the visible Church. He writes:

Biblical illiteracy has become an epidemic across America. People, sadly including many professing Christians, simply don’t know what the Bible teaches and often hold to unbiblical or even heretical beliefs. For example, a recent study found that a mere 10% of Americans have a biblical worldview (despite 70% of Americans claiming the label of Christian). And the biblical teachings that the study considered part of a “biblical worldview” were the most basic of biblical beliefs, such as the personhood of the Holy Spirit or the existence of Satan. This study is a sad testament to the state of the American church.

What Can We Do?

What can parents, pastors, and Sunday school teachers do to combat biblical illiteracy? Here are a few ideas for how to instill a biblical worldview in the young people under your influence.

View article →

Source: How to Combat Biblical Illiteracy in the Church

Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

Boyce College professor Denny Burk has a word of advice for pastors: A wise and courageous pastor will always remember the wisdom of Solomon when exhorting his people: “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov.12:18). A good pastor is not going to use his words like a sword but like a scalpel. A sword and a scalpel are both made for cutting. But a sword is for killing. A scalpel is for healing. Even in confrontation, a pastor’s aim is not to deliver the coup de grâce but to heal.

Listen as Denny Burk offers appropriate ways for a pastor to treat family members. He writes:

The venting of the proverbial spleen seems to be the order of the day from cable news to social media and sometimes even in interpersonal interactions. We like to hear someone who agrees with our views “tell it like it is,” especially if the telling involves a few zingers against people whose views offend us. We thrive on this kind of outrage because it appeals to our sense of self-righteous indignation. It feels oh so good to be oh so right. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as dressing down “those people” who don’t agree with us.

View article →

Source: Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

What Should I Do When I’m Struggling to Read God’s Word?

There are times when I read God’s Word…and the words seem to fall flat. I’m hungry to hear from God, eager to meet him in my Bible—yet nothing jumps off the page or particularly moves my heart.

This can feel like looking at a delicious meal, and wanting to enjoy it, but having no appetite for it.

Identify Your Motives

Such hunger and disappointment reveal two attitudes about the human heart, one we should pursue and be thankful for, and one we should confess and flee from:

First, our hunger and disappointment mean we desire God—this is good! We want to hear from him, because we love him and want to obey him. We desire to know the God who speaks and walk closely with him by opening the Scriptures.

But our hunger and disappointment can equally say we expect God to reveal himself on our terms and timing, according to our needs and feelings. If we’re not careful, our time in God’s Word can become less about knowing him and more about checking off a list of spiritual duties to make ourselves feel good.

Usually, our hunger and disappointment are some combination of both.

Recognize Your Dependence

C.J. Mahaney says in his book Humility, “One morning, I’m profoundly aware that God is near to me, while the next day I can sense only His absence….I’ve learned that regardless of how I feel when I’m finished reading my Bible in the morning, I can know that I’ve made the statement, ‘I need You. I’m dependent upon You.’”

As I’ve battled through Bible reading in certain seasons, this reminder has helped and humbled me. We open our Bibles to see God and depend on him, and what better opportunity to do this than when we struggle to sense his presence and be moved by his Word. We need God even to meet with him, and this need produces humility within us. So, in a divine turn-of-events, the dryness we feel leads to deeper dependence, exposing our motives and increasing our desperation for God to do what only he can do.

Read God’s Word through Four Helps

Several things have been helpful for me in pursuing humble dependence on God for the reading of his Word each day:

1. Prayer

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18)

Prayer is an expression of our dependence on God and another aspect of our communion with him. Through prayer, we’re reminded that we approach God the Father through Jesus, not our efforts or merits. Prayer humbles us from plunging into the Word with a self-sufficient attitude and tunes us to the Holy Spirit, who alone can open our spiritual eyes to see and apply his truth.

Prayer reminds us that spiritual sight is God’s work, not ours; we open his Word by the strength he supplies and trust him to act. Because we know God will never leave or forsake us, we can have confidence he’s speaking and working, even when we can’t sense it. We pray because we cannot read our Bibles to see God’s glory apart from his enlightening help.

2. Confession

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

When God’s Word feels dry to me, I can walk away from it feeling insecure and bitter. So I bring this concern before God in prayer and confession, asking him to search my heart.

There are a couple ways our sinful pride is exposed as we read our Bibles:

Insecurity. If “how well” we read our Bibles, and what we “get” from the reading, is the measure of our time with God, then we’ll feel insecure when these are lacking. Insecurity is another angle to pride: It’s self-confidence fighting with failure and refusing to rest in grace.

Bitterness. Pride also lives at the root of bitterness, which says we deserve certain benefits from God and can therefore be upset when we don’t receive them. So we become bitter if he doesn’t act the way we think he should.

Pride is sin. It’s always lingering in our hearts, but a dry season of reading God’s Word exposes it. Leverage your time of prayer to confess pride and sinful motives to God, and ask him to lead you in the way of humble dependence through a repentant heart as you read.

3. Other Believers

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints…Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth… (Colossians 1:3-5)

Friend, if the Bible has felt dry to you lately, you’re not alone—fellow believers are in the same boat. Yet, many are experiencing the opposite: While some of us are struggling through it, others are enjoying God and seeing much in his Word.

This should encourage us; God is indeed at work among and within his people! When I’m discouraged by my time in the Bible, and I hear how God is growing the faith and love of my sisters and brothers through his Word, I’m encouraged to press on, trust him, and rest in his grace. This is one reason why the local church and its small group ministries are so vital.

4. Grace

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

There’s a reason Bible reading is called a “means of grace.” We engage with God’s Word not to earn his favor but because we already have his favor, not to work for our salvation but because Christ has finished the work on our behalf. We dive into the Bible’s depths to remember and enjoy what’s already ours in Christ.

We can pray before we start and confess our sin to remember how God gives grace to help us in time of need. And we grasp this grace freshly when nothing seems to jump off the page at us: Our standing before God isn’t dependent on this, but on Jesus Christ, who never changes and is always at work.

Believer, if reading God’s Word has felt like a struggle lately, rest in his gospel. God’s grace abounds even in this.

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The post What Should I Do When I’m Struggling to Read God’s Word? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

There is an important difference between guilt and guilt feelings. The distinction is between that which is objective and that which is subjective. Guilt is objective; it is determined by a real analysis of what a person has done with respect to law. When a person transgresses a law, that person incurs guilt. This is true in the ultimate sense with regard to the law of God. Whenever we break the law of God, we incur objective guilt. We may deny that the guilt is there. We may seek to excuse it or deal with it in other ways. Still, the reality is that we have the guilt.

However, guilt feelings may or may not correspond proportionately to one’s objective guilt. In fact, in most cases, if not all cases, they do not correspond proportionately. As painful as guilt feelings can be—and we’ve all experienced the rigors of unsettling guilt feelings—I don’t think any of us have ever experienced feelings of guilt in direct proportion to the actual guilt that we bear before God. I believe it is one of the mercies of God that He protects us from having to feel the full weight of the guilt that we actually have incurred in His sight.

Just as there are objective and subjective aspects of guilt, so there are objective and subjective aspects of forgiveness. First of all, forgiveness itself is objective. The only cure for real guilt is real forgiveness based on real repentance and real faith. However, we may have real and true forgiveness before God and yet not feel forgiven. Likewise, we may feel forgiven when we are not forgiven. That makes the issue of forgiveness very sticky.

We tend to trust our feelings to tell us what state we are in before God. Someone recently told me about a friend of hers who lives her Christian life on the basis of experience. I think that’s a very dangerous thing, because it’s like saying, “I determine truth by my subjective responses and feelings to it.” I would much prefer that her friend tried to live the Christian life on the basis of Scripture, because Scripture is objective truth that transcends the immediacy of a person’s experience.

Ultimately, the only source of real forgiveness is God. Thankfully, God is quick to forgive. In fact, one of the few absolute promises that God makes to us is that, if we confess our sins to Him, He will most seriously and surely forgive those sins (1 John 1:9).

Many years ago, I went to see my pastor to tell him about a struggle I was having with guilt. After I told him my problem, he opened the Bible to 1 John 1:8 and asked me to read this verse out loud. It says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In this verse, the apostle John is addressing the scenario we discussed earlier, in which a person who has real guilt attempts to deny or excuse it. John is saying that if we deny our guilt, we are simply fooling ourselves. We all sin. Therefore, we all contract guilt. If we refuse to accept that, we are engaged in perhaps the worst kind of deception, namely, self-deception. But when I read that passage, my pastor said to me: “That’s not your problem, because you’ve just told me why you came here. You came to tell me that you had a problem with sin.” Then he had me read the next verse: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When I finished reading that, he asked me, “Have you confessed your sin?” I said: “Yes. But I still feel guilty.” He said: “OK. How about reading 1 John 1:9 for me.” I looked at him in confusion and said, “That’s what just I read.” He said: “I know. I want you to read it again.” So I picked up the Bible and I read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then I looked up at the minister, and he said, “So, what else?” I said: “Well, I’ve read this passage, I understand what it is saying, and I’ve confessed my sin. But I still feel guilty.” He said, “OK, this time I’d like you to read 1 John 1:9.” He made me read it again, and I ended up reading it five or six times. Finally, he got my attention. He said, “R. C., here’s what the truth of God declares: If ‘A,’ ‘B’ necessarily follows. God has promised that if you confess your sins, He will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you of your unrighteousness. You don’t believe that you’re forgiven because you don’t feel forgiven. What, then, are you trusting—your feelings or the truth of God?” I finally got the message he was trying to help me see.

This excerpt is adapted from What Can I Do with My Guilt? by R.C. Sproul. You can download all of R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions booklets for free here.

Source: What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

May 23, 2017: Verse of the day

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104:24–26 The variety of God’s works is staggering. “What wisdom has designed them all” (Knox). The earth is full of His creatures, and He cares for each one with amazing attention to detail. The sea swarms with life both small and great, ranging all the way from the minute plankton to the whales.

The mention of ships in verse 26 seems somewhat out of place in a discussion of living creatures. Some understand it to mean sea monsters (Gen. 1:21), but ships is the correct reading. Leviathan (in the same verse) may refer to the whales or porpoises which find the sea an ideal playground for their sporting antics. (But see comments and endnotes on Job 41.)[1]


The Glory of the Animal Creation (104:24–26)

Commentary

24–26 The world of creation reveals the power, wisdom, and creative diversity of the Lord. In vv. 5–9 the psalmist was in awe of God’s majestic power. Verses 10–18 reflect on the variety of his creatures and on his wisdom in sustaining all of them. Verses 19–23 evoke a response of gratitude, because the Lord is in control over the seasons and the alternation of day and night. In verses 24–26 the psalmist calls on the reader to worship with him the Lord’s wisdom and creative diversity. He has multiple “works” (v. 24; cf. v. 13) all over his world. All life belongs to him (“your creatures,” lit., “your possession”), whether on “the earth” (v. 24) or in “the sea” (v. 25).

The emphasis on sea creatures magnificently complements the mention in vv. 10–18 of wild and domesticated animals, birds, and humans. The Lord provides for the great number of sea creatures that in equal variety inhabit the seas (v. 25). Wherever ships have plied the seas (v. 26), reports have come back on the interesting variety of animal life in the sea, among which is the “leviathan.” The “leviathan”—a creature feared by the Canaanites because of its power, represented by seven heads (cf. ANET, 137–38; see Notes, 74:13)—is here only a large sea animal, a creature of God (“which you formed”), the Lord’s pet (v. 26). For an extensive study of this motif, see Day, God’s Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea.[2]


104:24–26 This portion corresponds to the fifth day of creation in Ge 1:20–23.[3]


104:25–26 The Lord Delights in the Sea Creatures, Too. After celebrating God’s care for the land animals, the song moves on to the open sea … which teems with creatures innumerable (corresponding to the fifth creation day, Gen. 1:20–23). (The ships that men sail for merchant activities do not defile the creation order.) Leviathan (see note on Ps. 74:14) here is probably a poetic name for a whale, and is therefore one of the “great sea creatures” (Gen. 1:21). Although the word can be used for an enemy of God, this psalm joins the creation account in portraying the various creatures as subject to the Lord, not opposing him. The admiration continues, as the song says that God formed Leviathan to play in the sea (or, if the alternate rendering in the ESV footnote is followed, he formed it to be his partner in play); throughout this psalm, delight takes the singing congregation far beyond mere utility![4]


104:25 sea … creatures innumerable. The fifth day of creation (Gen. 1:20–23).

104:26 ships … Leviathan. The psalmist’s imagination is caught up with God’s mysterious sea. On its surface ships glide to and fro from distant ports, while underneath lurks the monster Leviathan, here a poetic symbol of God’s creative power (Job 41).[5]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 708). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 768–769). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 104:24–26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1071). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 953). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 23 – Marveling at God’s Forgiveness (Matthew)

The twelve apostles included “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

Never lose your sense of awe over Christ’s forgiveness.

Matthew describes himself as “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3). He is the only apostle whose name is associated here with an occupation. Apparently Matthew never forgot what he had been saved from and never lost his sense of awe and unworthiness over Christ’s forgiveness.

Matthew 9:1–8, where he sets the scene of his own conversion, tells us Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic man and then healed him of his paralysis. When the Jewish scribes accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to have the authority to forgive sins, He said to them, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, and walk’?” He wanted them to know that His miracles testified to His deity. As God, He could as easily forgive sins as He could heal diseases.

Immediately after that account, Matthew gave the account of his own call. It’s as if he wanted his own salvation to serve as an illustration of Christ’s ability to forgive even the vilest of sinners. Matthew 9:9 says, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.”

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ practice of associating with tax-gatherers, He said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill. … I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (vv. 12–13). The Pharisees were sick with sin but thought they were healthy. Matthew and his associates knew they were sinners who needed a Savior.

Do you share Matthew’s humility and sense of awe at receiving Christ’s precious gift of forgiveness? I pray that you do and that you are continually praising Him for it.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the wonder of forgiveness. ✧ If you have lost your sense of awe over God’s forgiveness, perhaps you’re taking His grace for granted. Confess your apathy, and ask Him to give you a deep appreciation for the enormous price He paid for your salvation.

For Further Study: As a reminder of what Christ endured for you, read Matthew 26:17–27:56, which chronicles the events of His betrayal and crucifixion.[1]


Matthew

Because he wrote the first gospel, Matthew is one of the best known apostles. But the New Testament reveals very few details of his life or ministry.

Before his conversion and call to discipleship, Matthew collected taxes for Rome (Matt. 9:9). It was not an occupation to be proud of, and one would think he would have wanted to dissociate himself from the stigma as much as possible. Yet when he wrote the gospel some thirty years later, he still referred to himself as the tax-gatherer.

As discussed previously in more detail (see chap. 6), tax-gatherers were considered traitors, the most hated members of Jewish society. They were often more despised than the occupying rulers and soldiers, because they betrayed and financially oppressed their own people. They were legal extortioners who extracted as much money as they could from both citizen and foreigner with the full authority and protection of Rome.

They were so despicable and vile that the Jewish Talmud said, “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector.” Tax collectors were not permitted to testify in Jewish courts, because they were notorious liars and accepted bribes as a normal part of life. They were cut off from the rest of Jewish life and were forbidden to worship in the Temple or even in a synagogue. In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray stood “some distance away” (Luke 18:13) not only because he felt unworthy but because he was not allowed to enter.

Matthew was hardly proud of what he had been, but he seems to have cherished the description as a reminder of his own great unworthiness and of Christ’s great grace He saw himself as the vilest sinner, saved only by the incomparable mercy of his Lord.

Even from the little information given about him, it is evident Matthew was a man of faith. When he got up from his tax table and began to follow Jesus, he burned his bridges behind him. Tax collecting was a lucrative occupation, and many opportunists were doubtlessly eager to take Matthew’s place. And once he forsook his privileged position, the Roman officials would not have granted it to him again. The disciples who were fishermen could always return to fishing, as many of them did after the crucifixion; but there could be no returning to tax collecting for Matthew.

In the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew’s leaving his tax office to follow Jesus did little to elevate his standing. Casting his lot with Jesus did not increase Matthew’s popularity, but it greatly increased his danger. There is little doubt that Matthew faced something of the true cost of discipleship before any of the other apostles.

Matthew was not only faithful but humble. In his own gospel (and even in the other three) he is faceless and absolutely voiceless during his time of training under Jesus. He asks no questions and makes no comments. He appears directly in no narrative. Only from Mark (2:15) and Luke (5:29) do we learn that the banquet Jesus ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” was in Matthew’s house. In his own account, the fact that he was responsible for it is only implied (Matt. 9:10). He was eager and overjoyed for his friends and former associates to meet Jesus, but he calls no attention to his own role in the banquet.

It may be that his humility was born out of his overwhelming sense of sinfulness. He saw God’s grace as so superabundant that he felt unworthy to say a word. He was the silent disciple, until the Holy Spirit led him to pick up his pen and write the opening book of the New Testament-twenty-eight powerful chapters on the majesty, might, and glory of the King of kings.

The fact that Matthew is also referred to as Levi indicates his Jewish heritage. We have no idea what his biblical training may have been, but Matthew quotes the Old Testament more often than the other three gospel writers combined-and quotes from all three parts of it (the law, the prophets, and the writings, or Hagiographa). Since it is highly unlikely he studied Scripture while he was a tax collector, he gained his biblical knowledge either in his youth or after he became an apostle.

Matthew had a loving heart for the lost. As soon as he was saved his first concern was to tell others of that great news and invite them to share in it. He was ashamed of his own previous life of sin; but he was not ashamed to be seen eating with his former associates who were despised by society and living under God’s judgment, because they needed the Savior just as he had.

He sensed personal sinfulness as perhaps none of his fellow disciples did, because he had been greedily and unashamedly involved in extortion, deception, graft, and probably blasphemy and every form of immorality. But now, like the woman taken in adultery, because he was forgiven much, he loved much (see Luke 7:42–43, 47). The genuineness of his love for the Lord is proved in his concern for the salvation of his friends.

God took that outcast sinner and transformed him into a man of great faith, humility, and compassion. He turned him from a man who extorted to one who gave, from one who destroyed lives to one who brought the way of eternal life.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 156). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 10:3). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 23 – GOD STANDS READY TO CONFIRM OUR FAITH IN HIM

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.

ACTS 2:32

The difference between faith as it is found in the New Testament and faith as it is found now, is that the faith in the New Testament actually produced something—there was a confirmation of it!

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and then he lifted up his voice. I would remind you that Peter here stands for the whole Church of God. Peter was the first man to get on his feet after the Holy Spirit had come. Peter had believed the Lord’s word and he had received confirmation in his own heart.

In our day faith is pretty much a beginning and an end. We have faith in faith—but nothing happens. There is no confirmation. Peter placed his faith in a risen Christ and something did happen. That’s the difference!

As in Peter’s case, it should be the business of the church to stand up and lift up. Peter became a witness on earth, as the church should be, to things in heaven. The church must be a witness to powers beyond the earthly and the human, and because I know this, it is a source of great grief to me that the church is trying to run on its human powers.

Peter testified to something beyond the earthly which he had experienced. He wanted to influence, urge and exhort those who had not yet experienced it to enter in, for the power from above turns out to be none other than the Spirit of God Himself![1]


2:32, 33 Now Peter repeats an announcement that must have shocked his Jewish audience. The Messiah of whom David prophesied was Jesus of Nazareth. God had raised Him from among the dead, as the apostles could all testify because they were eyewitnesses to His resurrection. Following His resurrection, the Lord Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, and now the Holy Spirit had been sent as promised by the Father. This was the explanation of what had happened in Jerusalem earlier in the day.[2]


32. “This Jesus God raised up, and all of us are witnesses of it. 33. Therefore, having been exalted to God’s right hand, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you now both see and hear.”

In these two verses Peter notes the redemptive facts of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in conjunction with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In fact, he refers to the three Persons of the Trinity: the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Three times in his Pentecost sermon he emphatically points to Jesus as this Jesus (see vv. 23, 32, 36) to recall for his audience their knowledge of and acquaintance with Jesus of Nazareth (v. 22). Once again Peter stresses the theme of the early Christian church: the resurrection from the dead (v. 24; and see 13:30, 33–34, 37; 17:31).

In verses 32 and 33, Peter makes a distinction between the apostolic witnesses (“all of us are witnesses”) who have seen the resurrected Jesus and the multitude who observe the phenomena of Pentecost (“what you now both see and hear”). In another context, Peter states that Jesus appeared only to those witnesses “who were appointed beforehand by God” (10:41). Conversely, the multitude at Pentecost did not see the resurrected Christ; they saw and heard the visible and audible tokens of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Because Peter’s audience had not seen Jesus in the forty-day period between his resurrection and ascension, they needed proof that what the eyewitnesses proclaimed was true. Therefore, they wanted to know the relationship between Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. To meet the questions of his audience, Peter alludes to Jesus’ ascension and mentions Christ’s place at the right hand of God (compare 5:31). Christians eventually formulated these truths in the Apostles’ Creed and confessed that Jesus Christ

ascended to heaven,

and sits at the right hand

of God the Father almighty.

From his exalted position, Jesus has fulfilled the promise that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (refer to John 7:39; 14:26; 15:26). On the day of Pentecost Jesus’ words concerning the coming of the Spirit are being fulfilled. Consequently, everyone present at the temple area in Jerusalem is able to see the evidence of the outpouring of the Spirit. The listeners must know, therefore, that Jesus, seated at the right hand of God, has the authority to commission the Spirit to come and live in the hearts of the believers.[3]


Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but he also was exalted to the place of honor, glory, and power (cf. Phil. 2:9–11) at the right hand of God (cf. Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). From that exalted position, Peter says, Jesus, having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, has poured forth this which you both see and hear. Peter now brings his listeners full circle back to the phenomena of Pentecost. He tells them that what they had just seen resulted from God’s promise to send the Spirit to inaugurate the messianic age (Joel 2:28–29). Now that Christ was risen and glorified, God fulfilled that promise (cf. John 7:39).[4]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1586). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 100–101). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 65). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 23 – BLAME SOMEONE ELSE

And the man said, The woman…gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:12

In the earliest day of failure and tragedy in the garden of Eden, Adam came out of hiding, knowing full well his own guilt and shame.

Adam confessed: “We ate from the fruit of the tree that was forbidden—but it was the woman who enticed me!” (see Genesis 3:12).

When God said to Eve, “What did you do?” she said: “It was the serpent that beguiled me!” (see 3:13).

In that brief time our first parents had learned the art of laying the blame on someone else. That is one of the great, betraying evidences of sin—and we have learned it straight from our first parents. We do not accept the guilt of our sin and iniquity. We blame someone else.

If you are not the man you ought to be, you are likely to blame your wife or your ancestors. If you are not the young person you ought to be, you can always blame your parents. If you are not the wife you ought to be, you may blame your husband or perhaps the children.

Sin being what it is, we would rather lay the blame on others. We blame, blame, blame! That is why we are where we are.

Lord, help me to quickly acknowledge my sins and not try to hide them from You—which is actually impossible to do. I want to receive Your forgiveness and move on in my deepening relationship with You.[1]


3:12 The woman whom You gave. Adam pitifully put the responsibility on God for giving him Eve. That only magnified the tragedy in that Adam had knowingly transgressed God’s prohibition, but still would not be open and confess his sin, taking full responsibility for his action, which was not made under deception (1Ti 2:14).[2]


3:12 woman whom you gave Adam tries to pass responsibility to his wife—and perhaps even to God.[3]


3:12 A guilty man’s first line of defense is blame. Adam blamed the woman, and then he blamed God for having given her to him (for David’s contrasting response to Nathan, read 2 Sam. 12:13).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 3:12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 3:12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 12). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

May 23 – A Right Understanding of God’s Will

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.—Matt. 6:10b

To understand God’s will rightly, we need an attitude of righteous rebellion. If we would pray that God accomplishes His will, we must reject the notion that sin is normal and therefore we must accept it. Instead we must righteously rebel against the world’s ungodliness, its unbelief of Jesus Christ, and believers’ disobedience. Not to do this is to abandon key biblical teachings and accept powerlessness in prayer.

Jesus was not resigned to the spiritual status quo—He preached and acted against sin. When Jewish leaders profaned God’s house, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’ ” (John 2:15–16).

We further must rebel against the idea that wickedness and corruption is somehow God’s will that we must passively accept. Nothing evil comes from God’s hand, but only from Satan’s. To ask that righteousness and God’s will be done oftentimes means we have to pray for Satan’s will to be undone (cf. Ps. 68:1; Rev. 6:10).

To pray with a right understanding of God’s will is to pray believing that He hears and answers our prayers. Lack of such faith is one of our greatest hindrances to effective praying.

ASK YOURSELF
Yes, to pray for God’s will to be done on earth, we must first make sure it is being done in us. What are some aspects of God’s will that are going unheeded in your own heart, even though they are far from mysterious, very clearly laid out in Scripture? Make this your prayer today—that His will would be done in you.[1]

The Third Petition

10b. Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth. The will of God to which reference is made is clearly his “revealed” will, expressed in his law. It is that will which is done in heaven, but not yet to any great extent on earth. On the other hand, the will of God’s “decree” or “plan from eternity” is always being realized both in heaven and on earth (Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11), and cannot be the subject of prayer. (Incidentally, the statement that God’s revealed will is being perfectly obeyed in heaven—hence not only by heaven’s angels but also by the hosts of the redeemed—implies that the very moment a soul is translated from this sinful earth to heaven it has been freed from every vestige of sin.) It is the ardent desire of the person who sincerely breathes the Lord’s Prayer that the Father’s will shall be obeyed as completely, heartily, and immediately on earth as this is constantly being done by all the inhabitants of heaven.

As to “completely,” the story of King Saul shows that incomplete obedience, in which man sets his own will over against the divine, does not receive God’s approval and may have serious consequences (1 Sam. 15:1–3, 7–9, and note especially verses 22 and 23). As to “heartily,” note the words of Deut. 26:16 and Matt. 22:37. And as to “immediately,” the cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne-chariot, each cherub being equipped with four faces, and the chariot itself with wheels within wheels, so that its “drivers” were always ready to take it wherever the Lord wanted it to go, furnish a vivid illustration of the kind of obedience in which heaven delights (Ezek. 1; 10). Examples of human obedience: Noah (Gen. 6:22), Abraham (Gen. 11:28–32, cf. Acts 7:3; Gen. 12:1, cf. Heb. 11:8; Gen. 22:2 ff., cf. James 2:23); Joshua (Josh. 5:13–15); Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1–10); Simon (Peter) and Andrew (Matt. 4:19, 20); Simon (Peter) once more (Luke 5:5); James and John (Matt. 4:21, 22); Peter and the apostles (Acts 5:29); Mary of Bethany (John 11:28, 29); Paul (Acts 16:6–10; 26:19); and the Philippians (Phil. 2:12). The greatest example of all is Jesus Christ himself (Luke 2:51, 52; John 15:10; 17:4; Phil. 2:5–8; and Heb. 5:8). It was he who in the garden said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). As to the manner in which obedience is rewarded, from a host of passages that could be listed the following few should suffice: Josh. 1:8; Matt. 7:7, 8; John 7:17; 8:29; 14:21, 23; 15:10; Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 12:1, 2; and Rev. 3:20.

The petitions for the fulfilment of human needs follow. Although it is true that between the first three petitions, pertaining to God, and the last three, pertaining to man, there is a rather sharp division, the two are not to be regarded as wholly separate. If the believer is to take an active part in the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, and the doing of his will—such an active part being certainly implied in the first three petitions—he must have bread (Luke 10:7, cf. 1 Tim. 5:18; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:15, 16). Jesus, accordingly, is not forgetful of the physical needs of his disciples (see Matt. 6:25–34; 25:34–40; Mark 10:29, 30; cf. Acts 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:8 f.; James 2:15, 16), both in order that they may live and be happy, and that they may be able vigorously to support kingdom causes. This introduces[2]


God’s Plan

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (10:b)

Many people wonder how God’s sovereignty can be related to praying for His will to be done. If He is sovereign, is not His will inevitably done? Does our will override His will when we pray earnestly and sincerely? That is one of the great paradoxes of Scripture, a paradox about which Calvinists and Arminians have debated for centuries. It should be evident that this paradox, like those of God’s being three in one and Jesus’ being wholly God and wholly man, must be left to the infinite mind of God, because it is far beyond the finite human mind to comprehend. But what seems a hopeless contradiction to us is no dilemma to God. We hold both truths, seemingly paradoxical, in perfect tension with faith in the infinite mind of God, who resolves all things in perfect, noncontradictory truth (Deut. 29:29).

It is absolutely clear from Scripture that God is sovereign and yet not only allows but commands that man exercise his own volition in certain areas. If man were not able to make his own choices, God’s commands would be futile and meaningless and His punishments cruel and unjust. If God did not act in response to prayer, Jesus’ teaching about prayer would also be futile and meaningless. Our responsibility is not to solve the dilemma but to believe and act on God’s truths, whether some of them seem to conflict or not. To compromise one of God’s truths in an effort to defend another is the stuff of which heresy is made. We are to accept every part of every truth in God’s Word, leaving the resolution of any seeming conflicts to Him. Attempting on a human level to resolve all apparent paradoxes in Scripture is an act of arrogance and an attack on the truth and intent of God’s revelation.

When we pray Thy will be done, we are praying first of all that God’s will become our own will. Second, we are praying that His will prevail all over the earth as it [does] in heaven.

Wrong Understanding of God’s Will

Many people, including many believers, wrongly understand this part of the Disciples’ Prayer. Seeing God’s sovereignty simply as the absolute imposition of a dictator’s will, some believers are resentful. When, or if, they pray for His will to be done, they pray out of a feeling of compulsion. God’s will has to be done, and He is too strong to resist; so what would be the point of praying otherwise? The logical conclusion of most people who look at God in that way is that there is no point to prayer-certainly not to petitions. Why ask for the inevitable?

Other people are more charitable in their feelings about God. But because they, too, believe His will is inevitable, they pray out of passive resignation. They pray for God’s will to be done simply because that is what the Lord tells them to do. They are resignedly obedient. They do not pray so much out of faith as out of capitulation. They do not try to put their wills into accord with the divine will, but rather shift their own wills into neutral, letting God’s will run its course.

It is easy for Christians to fall into praying that way. Even in the very early days of the church, when faith generally was strong and vital, prayer could be passive and unexpectant. A group of concerned disciples was praying in the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, for the release of Peter from prison. While they were praying, Peter was freed by an angel and came to the house and knocked on the door. When a servant girl named Rhoda came to the door and recognized Peter’s voice, she rushed back inside to tell the others, forgetting to let Peter in. But the praying group did not believe her, and thought she had heard an angel. When Peter was finally admitted, “they saw him and were amazed” (Acts 12:16). They apparently had been praying for what they did not really believe would happen.

Our own prayer lives often are weak because we do not pray in faith; we do not expect prayer to change anything. We pray out of a sense of duty and obligation, subconsciously thinking that God is going to do just as He wants to do anyway. Jesus gave the parable of the importunate widow-who refused to accept the status quo and persisted in begging, despite receiving no response-for the very purpose of protecting us against that sort of passive and unspiritual resignation. “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The very fact that Jesus tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth indicates that God’s will is not always done on earth. It is not inevitable. In fact, lack of faithful prayer inhibits His will being done. In God’s wise and gracious plan, prayer is essential to the proper working of His divine will on earth.

God is sovereign, but He is not independently deterministic. Looking at God’s sovereignty in a fatalistic way, thinking “What will be will be,” absolutely destroys faithful prayer and faithful obedience of every sort. That is not a “high” view of God’s sovereignty, but a destructive and unbiblical view of it. That is not the divine sovereignty the Bible teaches. It is not God’s will that people die, or why would Christ have come to destroy death? It is not God’s will that people go to hell, or why would His only Son have taken the penalty of sin upon Himself so that men might escape hell? “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). That sin exists on earth and causes such horrible consequences is not evidence of God’s will but of His patience in allowing more opportunity for men to turn to Him for salvation.

Other people, overemphasizing the importance of man’s will, look at prayer as a means of bending God’s will to their own. They think of God’s providence as a sort of cosmic vending machine, which they can operate simply by inserting the required claim on one of His promises. As Elton Trueblood observes, “In some congregations the Gospel has been diminished to the mere art of self-fulfillment. Some current religious authors, far from emphasizing what it means to believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, write chiefly of themselves. Egocentricity is all that is left when the objective truth about the revelation of Christ is lost or even obscured.”

But Jesus undercuts that notion throughout His model prayer. True prayer focuses on Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will. Amy Carmichael wrote, “And shall I pray to change Thy will, my Father, until it accord to mine? But no, Lord, no; that shall never be. Rather I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.”

There is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, between God’s grace and man’s faith, but we dare not try to resolve it by modifying God’s truth about either His sovereignty or our will, His grace or our faith. God is sovereign, but He gives us choices. God is sovereign, but He tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And James reminds us that “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16).

Right Understanding of God’s Will

David sang of the angels who did God’s will. “Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!” (Ps. 103:20). That is the way God’s will is done in heaven, and that is the way believers are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth-unwaveringly, completely, sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly, and constantly. Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s perfect will.

A part of the right understanding of and attitude toward God’s will is what might be called a sense of righteous rebellion. To be dedicated to God’s will is, by definition, to be opposed to Satan’s. To pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven is to rebel against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable and should therefore be acquiesced to or at least tolerated. It is to rebel against the world system of ungodliness, the dishonoring and rejecting of Christ, and also the disobedience of believers. Impotence in prayer leads us, however unwillingly, to strike a truce with wrong. To accept what is, is to abandon a Christian view of God and His plan for redemptive history.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning, but He did not accept the situation as inevitable or irresistible. He preached against sin and He acted against sin. When His Father’s house was profaned, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise’ ” (John 2:14–16; cf. Matt. 21:12–13).

To pray for God’s will to be done on earth is to rebel against the idea, heard today even among evangelicals, that virtually every wicked, corrupt thing that we do or that is done to us is somehow God’s holy will and should be accepted from His hand with thanksgiving. Nothing wicked or sinful comes from the hand of God, but only from the hand of Satan. To pray for righteousness is to pray against wickedness. To pray for God’s will to be done is to pray for Satan’s will to be undone.

To pray for God’s will to be done is to cry with David, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him” (Ps. 68:1) and with the saints under God’s altar, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).

To pray rightly is to pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. I think the greatest hindrance to prayer is not lack of technique, lack of biblical knowledge, or even lack of enthusiasm for the Lord’s work, but lack of faith. We simply do not pray with the expectation that our prayers will make a difference in our lives, in other people’s lives, in the church, or in the world.

There are three distinct aspects of God’s will as He reveals it to us in His Word. First, is what may be called His will of purpose-the vast, comprehensive, and tolerating will of God expressed in the unfolding of His sovereign plan that embodies all of the universe, including heaven, hell, and the earth. This is God’s ultimate will, of which Isaiah wrote, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand’ ” (Isa. 14:24; cf. Jer. 51:29; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:9–11; etc.). This is the will of God that allows sin to run its course and Satan to have his way for a season. But in God’s appointed time sin’s course and Satan’s way will end exactly according to God’s plan and foreknowledge.

Second, is what may be called God’s will of desire. This is within His will of purpose and completely consistent with it. But it is more specific and focused. Unlike God’s will of purpose, His will of desire is not always fulfilled; in fact, it is very unfulfilled in comparison to Satan’s will in this present age.

Jesus greatly desired that Jerusalem be saved, and He prayed, preached, healed, and ministered among its people to that end. But few believed in Him; most rejected Him, and some even crucified Him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He prayed. “I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34). That was the repeated experience of God’s Son, who came to earth that men might have life, and have it more abundantly. Like the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, most people were not willing to come to Jesus for that abundant life (John 5:40; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Third, is what may be called God’s will of command. This will is entirely for His children, because only they have the capacity to obey. The will of command is the ardent desire of the heart of God that we who are His children obey Him completely and immediately with a willing heart. “Do you not know,” Paul says, “that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But 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, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:16–18).

God’s will of purpose embraces the ultimate end of this world, Christ’s second coming and the setting up of His eternal kingdom. His will of desire embraces conversion; and His will of command embraces the commitment and obedience of His children.

The great enemy of God’s will is pride. Pride caused Satan to rebel against God, and pride causes unbelievers to reject God and believers to disobey Him. For God’s will to be accepted and to be prayed for in sincerity and with faith, self-will must be forsaken in the power of the Holy Spirit. “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2).

When we pray in faith and in conformity to God’s will, our prayer is a sanctifying grace that changes our lives dramatically. Prayer is a means of progressive sanctification. John Hannah said, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening life of dependency. … The call to prayer is a call to love, submission, and obedience, … the avenue of sweet, intimate, and intense fellowship of the soul with the infinite Creator.”

The believer’s call is to bring heaven to earth by hallowing the Lord’s name, letting His kingdom come, and seeking to do His will.[3]


10 As God is eternally holy, so he eternally reigns in absolute sovereignty. Yet it is appropriate to pray not only “hallowed be your name” but also “your kingdom come.” God’s “kingdom” or “reign” (see comments at 3:2; 4:17, 23) can refer to that aspect of God’s sovereignty under which there is life—eternal life. That kingdom is breaking in under Christ’s ministry, but it is not consummated until the end of the age (28:20). To pray “your kingdom come” is therefore simultaneously to ask that God’s saving, royal rule be extended now as people bow in submission to him and already taste the eschatological blessing of salvation and to cry for the consummation of the kingdom (cf. 1 Co 16:22; Rev 11:17; 22:20). Godly Jews were waiting for the kingdom (Mk 15:43), “the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). They recited “Kaddish” (“Sanctification”), an ancient Aramaic prayer, at the close of each synagogue service. In its oldest extant form, it runs, “Exalted and hallowed be his great name in the world which he created according to his will. May he let his kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and soon. And to this, say, Amen” (Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 98, emphasis his). But the Jew looked forward to the kingdom, whereas the reader of Matthew’s gospel, while looking forward to its consummation, perceives that the kingdom has already broken in and prays for its extension as well as its unqualified manifestation.

To pray that God’s will, which is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Ro 12:2), be done on earth as in heaven is to use language broad enough to embrace three requests.

  1. The first request is that God’s will be done now on earth as it is now accomplished in heaven. The word thelēma (“will,” GK 2525) includes both God’s righteous demands (7:21; 12:50; cf. Ps 40:8) and his determination to bring about certain events in salvation history (18:14; 26:42; cf. Ac 21:14). So for that will to be “done” includes both moral obedience and the bringing to pass of certain events, such as the cross. This prayer corresponds to asking for the present extension of the messianic kingdom.
  2. The second request is that God’s will may ultimately be as fully accomplished on earth as it is now accomplished in heaven. “Will” has the same range of meanings as before, and this prayer corresponds to asking for the consummation of the messianic kingdom.
  3. The third request is that God’s will may ultimately be done on the earth in the same way as it is now accomplished in heaven. In the consummated kingdom, it will not be necessary to discuss superior righteousness (5:20–48) as antithetical to lust, hate, retaliatory face slapping, divorce, and the like; for then God’s will, construed now as his demands for righteousness, will be done as it is now done in heaven: freely, openly, spontaneously, and without the need to set it over against evil (Carson, Sermon on the Mount, 66–67).

These first three petitions, though they focus on God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will, are nevertheless prayers that he may act in such a way that his people will hallow his name, submit to his reign, and do his will. It is therefore impossible to pray this prayer in sincerity without humbly committing oneself to such a course.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 152). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 331–332). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 381–386). Chicago: Moody Press.

[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. 204–205). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 23 – OMNIPOTENT AND ALMIGHTY

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude… and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

—Revelation 19:6

I suppose the first thing to do would be to define omnipotence. It comes, of course, from omni, meaning “all,” and potent, meaning “able to do and to have power.” And so omnipotent means “able to do all and to have all power.” It means having all the potency there is.

Then we come to a second word, Almighty…. Now that means exactly the same thing as omnipotent…. Almighty means “having an infinite and absolute plenitude of power.” When you use the words infinite and absolute you can only be talking about one person—God.

There is only one infinite Being, because infinite means without limit. And it is impossible that there should be two beings in the universe without limit. So if there is only one, you are referring to God. Even philosophy and human reason, as little as I think of them, have to admit this….

God has power and whatever God has is without limit; therefore, God is omnipotent. God is absolute and whatever touches God or whatever God touches is absolute; therefore, God’s power is infinite; God is Almighty. AOGII072, 074

What assurance to know I rest in the arms of an all-powerful God. Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! Amen. [1]


19:6 Now another song breaks out in heaven, as “loud as many water’s noise, loud as thunders to the ear.” A great “Alleluia” swells in celebration of the reign of the Lord God Omnipotent![2]


6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude and as it were the sound of many waters and as it were the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah, because our Lord God Almighty rules.”

John listened to a hymn that sounded as if it were sung by a vast multitude. He does not identify this throng, but because the wording is the same as in verse 1, it appears that the multitude has the same identity. They sing both the opening and the concluding hymns in this chapter; in both they sing the same notes of praise and adulation. Here are inconspicuous echoes of the hymns the multitudes sang in both chapters 5 and 7.

The voice that John hears he compares with sounds taken from nature: the sounds of many waters and of mighty peals of thunder. John describes the voice of Jesus’ appearance on the isle of Patmos as a rushing sound coming from many waters (1:15; see 14:2; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2). And the phrase mighty peals of thunder conveys the idea of loudness that can be heard everywhere (Rev. 6:1; 14:2). These two phrases indeed point to God’s power, majesty, and glory. And the mighty voice of the countless multitude attests to expressions of joy and thankfulness for the privilege of being the bride of Christ.

This voice, conveying the sound of a multitude of people talking at the same time, rises from the pleasing tones of bubbling water and then swells to the crashing crescendo of thunderclaps. These sounds are like people who begin singing softly but then culminate their hymn in resounding overtones. The first word of the song is Hallelujah, which has now occurred four times in these hymns. It is followed by a clause that gives the reason for this note of jubilation, “because our Lord God Almighty rules.” The verb in this clause can be interpreted to read that the Lord “has begun to rule.” The Lord God, as the descriptive label Almighty indicates, has always been the ruler over his great creation. But now the kingdom of the Antichrist has come to its anticipated end, and the Lord God is the supreme ruler in the vast universe he has created. In Revelation, the term the Lord God Almighty appears seven times and characterizes God’s sovereignty. While on earth Domitian was honored as dominus et deus (Lord and God), the heavenly chorus sings in triumph that God occupies the true seat of power in the world (see Ps. 93:1; 97:1; 99:1; 1 Chron. 16:31; Zech. 14:9). Last, the possessive personal pronoun our in “our Lord God Almighty rules” makes the chorus inclusive: the saints in heaven and on earth are one.[3]


6 Finally the cycle of praise is completed with the reverberating sounds of another great multitude. If the multitude in v. 1 was angelic, then this one would most certainly be the great redeemed throngs (cf. 7:9). They utter the final Hallel in words reminiscent of the great kingship psalms (93:1; 97:1; 99:1). The first of these psalms is used in the synagogue in Sabbath morning and evening services and also in the Armenian church liturgy for Easter Sunday (Werner, Sacred Bridge, 153). It is also the prelude to the messianic Psalms 95–99 and has as its theme the eternal sovereignty of God, who will conquer all his enemies (cf. Hertz, Daily Prayer Book, 362). The Greek verb ebasileusen (“reigns”), an ingressive aorist, may better be rendered, “has begun to reign.”[4]


[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. 2376). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 512–513). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 755). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 23 – Stephen: Grace and Serenity in Suffering

“And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 6:5

✧✧✧

Stephen’s excellent character teaches us much about responding to suffering and death.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is one of the most inspiring biblical examples of faithfulness in life and ministry. But his personal excellence shines forth most through the familiar account of his death by stoning.

As one of the first deacons in the church, Stephen was recognized early on as a man of great faith and spirituality (Acts 6:5). And a few verses later Luke describes him as “full of grace and power” (v. 8). That was a grace of loving–kindness toward others, which he displayed in a most powerful way just before his death.

In Acts 7:60, as the Jews were pelting him with rocks, Stephen was able to look up to Heaven and say, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” That kind of faith–filled, grace–filled reaction to those who were hatefully killing him was possible only because Stephen believed in God’s sovereign control over his life and death.

At the very start of his encounter, Stephen manifested another amazing response to his horribly unjust treatment: his enemies “saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). It’s impossible for us to know precisely what such an expression would have been like, but it denoted a supernatural tranquility and joy that comes from being enveloped by the Lord’s glorious presence. Stephen’s awesome expression must have been an extremely forceful rebuke to the Jewish leaders who claimed to know God.

The typical reaction from many of us in the same situation would have been to exhibit much anxiety, stress, and anger. But Stephen demonstrated no such response. Instead, he is a role model for how any believer ought to behave during the most challenging trial. He had more than adequate grace to cope well in every circumstance (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9; James 4:6), which is true of all genuine Christians—those “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for Christian friends who are role models to you. ✧ Pray that your behavior today would be special and Spirit–filled, not ordinary and man–centered.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 33:7–11, 17–23; 34:29–35. What does Moses’ experience reveal about the power of God’s glory?[1]


6:5, 6 Judging from the names of the seven men who were chosen, most of them were Greek-speaking Jews before their conversion. This was certainly a most gracious concession to the very group that had made the complaint. Hereafter there could be no charge of favoritism from that quarter. When the love of God fills men’s hearts, it triumphs over pettiness and selfishness.

Only two of the deacons are well-known to us—Stephen, who became the first martyr of the church; and Philip, the evangelist who later carried the gospel to Samaria, won the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ, and entertained Paul at Caesarea.

After praying, the apostles expressed their fellowship with the choice of the church by laying hands on the seven.[2]


5–6 The apostles made a proposal, but the church, which is the community of God’s Spirit, made the decision. The apostles, therefore, laid their hands on the Seven and appointed them to be responsible for the daily distribution of food. The laying on of hands recalls Moses’ commissioning of Joshua (Nu 27:18–23), where through this act some of Moses’ authority was conferred to Joshua (cf. Lev 3:2; 16:21, where, conversely, by the laying on of hands there was the symbolic transference of sin). This is evidently what the laying on of hands was meant to symbolize here, with the apostles delegating their authority to the seven men selected by the church (cf. 8:17; 9:17; 13:3; 19:6 for other instances in Acts of this practice).

All the men appointed have Greek names. One of them is singled out as having been a Gentile convert to Judaism—i.e., a “proselyte” (prosēlytos, GK 4670). But it is impossible to be sure from the names themselves whether all seven were Hellenists, for at that time many Palestinian Jews also had Greek names. Nevertheless, the fact that Luke gives only Greek names suggests that all seven were, in fact, from the Hellenistic group of believers within the church. Likewise, the text does not expressly speak of these seven in terms of the ecclesiastical title “deacon” (diakonos, GK 1356), though it does use the cognate noun diakonia (“service,” “ministry,” “distribution”) in v. 1 and the verb diakoneō (“wait on,” “serve”) in v. 2 in describing what they were to do. It also uses diakonia [“service” or “ministry”] in v. 4 as a synonym for the proclamation of the apostles. Yet the ministry to which the seven were appointed was functionally equivalent to what is spoken of as the office of “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:8–13—which is but to affirm the maxim that in the NT “ministry was a function long before it became an office.”[3]


  1. This proposal pleased the whole community. Thus, they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, who had been a convert to Judaism. 6. They introduced these men to the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.

The apostles propose and the church approves their suggestion. The word pleased denotes a basic harmony between apostles and the Christian community. The complaint has been withdrawn and the irritation concerning the financial neglect has subsided. As a result, the church enters into the work of finding seven capable men. How the people instituted and regulated the search for these men is not known. Luke says nothing about casting the lot (compare 1:26), but the verb to choose indicates that a selection was made based on the rules stipulated by the apostles. Incidentally, Christ chose the twelve apostles (including Matthias; see 1:24), but the church chooses the seven men whom the apostles installed.

Who are these seven men? All the names are of Greek origin. Although some native Jews had Greek names, among them the apostles Philip and Andrew, scholars favor the explanation that all seven were Hellenistic Jews whose native tongue was Greek. The first name is Stephen, which actually means “a crown.” In a sense, he received the crown of righteousness when he died a martyr’s death. Stephen meets the requirements the apostles set, for Luke reports that he is a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” He is known for his faith, as he demonstrates in his teaching and preaching. Philip is next. He is later known as the evangelist (21:8). Then follow the names of Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas, of whom we know nothing. The last man is Nicolas, a native of Antioch and a Gentile who had been converted first to Judaism and now to Christianity. Perhaps Luke has a special interest in Nicolas, because, according to tradition, he himself was born and reared a Gentile in, Antioch and afterward became a Christian. Here, then, are seven Hellenists, of whom six were of Jewish descent. The seventh is Nicolas, a Gentile who entered the church as a proselyte. Nicolas has often been identified as the father of the Nicolaitans, who are mentioned in Revelation 2:6, 15. “The Nicolaitans certainly derived their name from some Nicolas—whether from this Nicolas or another must remain uncertain.” The fact that all the candidates are Hellenists undoubtedly appeases the Greek-speaking part of the Jerusalem church.

The church presents these seven men to the apostles, who approve the choice the church has made. Then the apostles present these men in prayer to God and seek divine approval and blessings upon the work that awaits the seven administrators. After the prayer, the apostles ordain these seven servants by placing their hands upon them. Thus, they adopt the practice that Moses inaugurated for the ordaining of the Levites for special service and for the commissioning of Joshua as Moses’ successor (Num. 8:10; 27:23). In New Testament times, not only the apostles adhere to the rite of the laying on of hands to commission qualified persons; but also the church in Antioch obediently listens to the Holy Spirit and places hands on Barnabas and Paul (13:2–3; see also 1 Tim, 5:22).[4]


The Roster

And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (6:5–6)

The apostles’ plan found approval with the whole congregation, and seven men were appointed to the ministry. That all seven bore Greek names suggests all were Hellenists. If true, it was a demonstration of the loving unity of the church. Since the Hellenists felt slighted,the church decided to appoint seven from among them to rectify the situation. A split was thus avoided, and again Satan’s attack was thwarted.

Stephen was to play a pivotal role in the spread of the gospel beyond Jerusalem. It was the persecution connected with his martyrdom that propelled the church out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). The commendation of him as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit reveals his character.

Philip also plays a prominent role in Acts. He took the gospel to the Samaritans (8:4–25), and to the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26–40). Four of his daughters became prophetesses (21:8).

Nothing definite is known about the remaining five men. Some early traditions connect Prochorus with John the apostle, possibly as his amanuensis when he wrote his gospel. According to those traditions, he later became bishop of Nicomedia and was martyred in Antioch (John B. Polhill, The New American Commentary: Acts [Nashville: Broadman, 1992], p. 182).

All that is known for certain about Nicolas is that he was a proselyte (A Gentile convert to Judaism) from Antioch. Some of the church Fathers associated him with the heretical group known as the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 15). But there is no evidence, apart from the similarity in the names, to connect him with that group. And as Lenski rightly observes, “It ought to be understood that decidedly more evidence is required in a matter of so serious a charge” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961], 246).

The congregation brought the seven before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. This first occasion in the New Testament of laying on of hands signified the identification and affirmation of the church with these men, and the support of their ministry. Elders, deacons, and all who served in the early church were ordained this way (cf. Acts 13:3; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6).

All though little is known about most of these men, they played a crucial role in the foundational history of the church. But for them, either the apostles’ priorities would have been compromised, or the church may have split. Either would have been disastrous.[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1601). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 806). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 223–225). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (pp. 182–183). Chicago: Moody Press.

May 23 – No Secret to Success

No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

I have never met a successful, influential person in any realm of enterprise who was not committed to reaching goals. The people who influence the world are pursuers, competitors, and winners, preoccupied with goals rather than having their own needs met. All I have learned about the lives of great Christian leaders has made one thing clear: there is no secret to success—they all put out maximum effort to reach spiritual goals and ignore personal satisfaction during the process.

It’s amazing to discover what great preachers, theologians, and missionaries have suffered in the process of reaching their goals. They were far more concerned with following Christ than with their own condition. Can you say the same about your own commitment to Christ?[1]


Desire for Personal Relations

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (9:61–62)

Another man, probably following up on the Lord’s discussion with the previous individual, also volunteered to follow Jesus. “I will follow You, Lord” he promised, “but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” Unlike the man the Lord had just spoken with, this third individual was willing to leave his inheritance behind. He had only one request, which seemed reasonable enough: He wanted to delay joining Christ long enough to go home and say good-by to his loved ones.

But as was the case with the other two, the Lord, knowing what was in his heart, rejected this man’s proposal. Perhaps he wanted to do a little quick fundraising among his family and friends before leaving on his mission trip with Jesus. More likely, however, there was a deeper issue involved. His words revealed that his family ties were too strong for him to break away from them. Jesus knew that if he returned home, the impulse of the moment would die and he would never be able to leave. Like many people, fear of being away from or ostracized by his family would keep him from following the Lord. That is why Jesus cautioned the crowds that followed Him, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Jesus replied by adapting a popular proverb that dates back to the eighth-century b.c. Greek poet Hesiod: “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, He declared, is fit for the kingdom of God.” This saying pictures complete dedication to the task at hand, since one could hardly plow a straight furrow while looking backwards. It is impossible to follow Christ with a divided heart, as this man’s was. He was not fit for the kingdom of God because he was holding on to the kingdom of this world. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” James asked. “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4; cf. 1 John 2:15–17).

Though the text does not describe what ultimately became of these three men it is obvious that they, like the rich young ruler, abandoned Christ to hold on to earthly things. The issue in view in all three of these encounters was not fitness for service by those in the kingdom, but saving faith by which one enters the kingdom. Those unwilling to part with something—comfort, riches, relationships, or anything else—cannot enter the kingdom of God; salvation is for those who have come to complete self-denial. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” Jesus declared, because “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:23–24).[2]


  1. Jesus replied, No one who has just put his hand to a plow and (then) continues to look back is fit for the kingdom of God.

The fact that this proverb was not original with Jesus but can be traced back to Hesiod (fl. about 800 b.c.) does not make it any less appropriate. The man who puts his hand to a plow and starts plowing forward, but then immediately looks back and continues to do so, constantly trying to plow forward while he looks behind him, cannot run a straight furrow. It is entirely proper for him to stop his plow and then, while standing still, to view what he has done, in order to correct mistakes. But to plow in one direction while looking in the opposite direction will never do.

This man’s heart was divided. He should stop following the example of the Israelites (1 Kings 18:21), and instead should follow in Paul’s footsteps (Phil. 3:13, 14). Then, by God’s grace and power, he will be “fit” for the kingdom of God, “very useful to the Master” (2 Tim. 2:21). He must learn to say, and to mean it:

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,

One holy passion filling all my frame—

The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove;

My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

—George Croly[3]


9:62 Jesus told him that once he put his hand to the plow of discipleship, he must not look back; otherwise he was not fit for the kingdom of God. Christ’s followers are not made of half-hearted stuff or dreamy sentimentality. No considerations of family or friends, though lawful in themselves, must be allowed to turn them aside from utter and complete abandonment to Him. The expression not “fit for the kingdom” does not refer to salvation but to service. It is not at all a question of entrance into the kingdom but of service in the kingdom after entering it. Our fitness for entering into the kingdom is in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. It becomes ours through faith in Him.

And so we have three cardinal hindrances to discipleship illustrated in the experience of these men:

  1. Material comforts.
  2. A job or an occupation.
  3. Family and friends.

Christ must reign in the heart without a rival. All other loves and all other loyalties must be secondary.[4]


61–62 Though to “say good-by” (apotaxasthai, GK 698) is not at all the emotional equivalent of a funeral (cf. vv. 59–60), it still represents family duty that must be forsaken for service to Jesus. Danker, 125, sees here an allusion to the call of Elisha while plowing and his request to say good-by to his family (1 Ki 19:19–21, cf. Marshall, 412). A further illustration of discipleship is keeping the hand on the plow. Jeremias, 195, describes the plowman concentrating on the furrow before him, guiding the light plow with his left hand while goading the oxen with the right. Looking away would result in a crooked furrow.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 160). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2011). Luke 6–10 (pp. 320–321). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 563). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1407). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 190). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.