Daily Archives: May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 25, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands to step up the fight against terrorism are set to resonate with his NATO partners when he visits the alliance headquarters for the first time on Thursday.

Former President Obama praised Angela Merkel’s leadership and encouraged her to stand up for a liberal world order, hours before the German chancellor was meeting his successor Donald Trump at a NATO summit.

Changes Republicans made to their health bill to help pass it through the House would undermine insurance markets and result in millions more people without insurance, the Congressional Budget Office said, an assessment that will likely complicate the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to sharing intelligence with the U.S., even after some U.K. officials began withholding security details from Washington over leak concerns.

Lawmakers in the U.S. House took the first step to back President Donald Trump’s initiative to expand the number of federal agents responsible for rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants. The House Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote Wednesday, approved a bill to allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire as many as 10,000 deportation officers. The measure, H.R. 2406, also would provide 2,500 new detention guards and 60 new prosecutors.

Prime Minister Theresa May will leave the Group of Seven gathering in Sicily a day early to return to the U.K. as the country races to prevent further terrorist attacks from the network behind the Manchester suicide bombing.

OPEC extended oil production cuts for nine more months after last year’s landmark agreement failed to eliminate the global oversupply or achieve a sustained price recovery.

U.S. jobless-benefit claims are hovering near levels that continue to reflect a strong labor market, with figures little changed last week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Initial benefit filings increased 1k to 234k (forecast was 238k).

AP Top Stories

A week after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was close to picking a new FBI director to replace the one he fired, the White House has decided to renew its search.

Authorities in the U.K. have announced the arrest of three more people in connection with Monday night’s concert bombing that left 22 dead and dozens more injured.

In a move meant primarily to appease President Donald Trump, NATO leaders said on Thursday that the alliance was joining the fight against the Islamic State. Every nation among the alliance’s 28 member states already support the effort in Iraq and Syria in some way, and several fly daily bombing missions targeting the terrorist group.

The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had killed Islamic State’s military commander in Syria during operations in the north of the country, where the Russian-backed government forces are seizing more territory back from the jihadist group.

Islamist militants rampaging through a southern Philippine city beheaded a local police chief, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday.

A gigantic new research submarine designed by Russia will travel underneath ice floes, mapping its underwater surroundings with a pair of huge plane-like wings. The sub will help Moscow exploit its Arctic frontier as it prepares to harvest previously untouchable natural resources.

A field of poppy plants that could be used to make opium was discovered in North Carolina and had an estimated value of $500 million, a sheriff says.

Bahrain police raided a town Tuesday that is home to a prominent Shiite cleric facing possible deportation, arresting 286 people in an assault in which officers fired tear gas and shotguns at protesters. At least five demonstrators were killed and others wounded.

Iraq’s Interior Ministry said it launched an investigation into allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by its forces fighting the Islamic State group in Mosul.

California-based company Rocket Lab said Thursday it had launched a test rocket into space from its New Zealand launch pad, although the rocket didn’t reach orbit as hoped.

BBC

A US warship has sailed close to an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, the first challenge to Beijing’s claim to the waters since President Donald Trump took office. The USS Dewey passed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.

Americans who want to influence the new US government should learn Russian, US ex-Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Brazilian President Michel Temer has revoked a decree that deployed troops in the capital, Brasilia, to defend government buildings against protests. The decree was made on Wednesday when the government said police could not contain anti-government demonstrations.

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has pressed ahead with plans to create a citizens’ assembly to draw up a new constitution.

A South Korean military court has given an army captain a suspended six-month prison sentence for having sex with another male soldier.

WND

Two men were shot to death in Tampa, Fla., allegedly by their teenage roommate, allegedly because the victims were neo-Nazi sympathizers, as was the gunman until his recent conversion to Islam.

Well over one-third of America’s adult college students believe that campus “safe spaces” are “absolutely necessary” to assist grown adults who are psychologically traumatized by hearing opinions with which they disagree.


The Briefing 05-25-17

The failure of integration and global jihad: Why are so many British youths being radicalized?

What should Christians think of espionage? Wrestling with the moral dimensions of spying

The post The Briefing 05-25-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/25/2017

Too Far? L.A. Times Publishes Op-Ed About Putting a ‘Binding Curse’ on President Trump
Diane Wagman is an author who frequently writes op-eds for The Los Angeles Times newspaper. She wrote: I cast a spell on the president. I was not alone. Thousands of witches, believers and people like me all over the world performed “A Spell to Bind Donald Trump….

Polls: Americans Don’t Want Trump to Be Impeached
A majority of American voters say there is no evidence of collusion between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russia and most are doubtful that investigations into the matter will lead to impeachment.

Trump Surges in Polls During First Foreign Trip
Rasmussen reports the president’s approval numbers rising to 48 percent from a recent low of 43, with disapproval at 52 percent, down from 57. The poll canvasses 500 likely voters per night for a three-day rolling average, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

China Accuses US Warship Of “Trespassing” In Disputed Waters, Warns It To “Leave Immediately
The U.S. patrol, the first of its kind since October, marks the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. One official said it was the first operation near a land feature which was included in a ruling last year against China by an international arbitration court in The Hague. The court invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea

Bad intel from Russia influenced Comey’s Clinton announcement: report
James Comey’s controversial decision to detail the FBI’s findings in the Hillary Clinton email case without Justice Department input was influenced by a dubious Russian document that the FBI now considers to be bad intelligence, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

ashington Dignitaries Gather to Celebrate Jerusalem Day, Call for Embassy Move
More than 100 lawmakers and religious leaders closely involved in U.S. government policy on the Middle East came out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Wednesday, Jerusalem Day. The celebration was hosted by the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) and took place in the Rayburn House Office Building at the U.S. Capitol.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Rumored to be a Pick for U.S. Religious Freedom Ambassador
According to Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Brownback was “second to none” as far as advocacy for persecuted religious groups was concerned. Brownback, who is currently 60 years of age, is a conservative Catholic. He served over a decade in the U.S. senate prior to becoming the Governor of Kansas. At present, he is two years into his second term as Governor of Kansas.

Taiwan approves same-sex marriage, first such ruling in Asia
Until 2001, China listed homosexuality as a mental disorder, but it is not illegal to be gay. Many large cities have thriving gay scenes, although gay men and women still face a lot of family pressure to get married and have children.

Hamas calls for day of rage in support of hunger strikers
Hamas urged Palestinians in the West Bank to participate in a day of rage on Friday to support hunger strikers in Israeli prisons. “Hamas calls on our people to spark clashes with the Israeli occupation in a day of rage,” Hamas said in a statement on Wednesday night

Report: Netanyahu mulling radical plan for east Jerusalem neighborhoods
A plan to separate some of east Jerusalem’s neighborhoods was presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several months ago in a work meeting between the premier and MK Dr. Anat Berko (Likud). Berko accompanied her plan with a detailed map, aerial photographs and groundwork. The map in question was a map of the municipal areas of Jerusalem. At the center of it was marked a new border…whose purpose was to remove Israel’s municipal responsibility over a long list of Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

Evidence of 2,000-year-old battle for Jerusalem unearthed in City of David
To mark Jerusalem’s jubilee celebration commemorating the Six Day War, the Israel Antiquities Authority on Thursday unveiled rare relics from the 2,000-year-old battle for the capital that took place on the eve of the destruction of the Second Temple. Findings, including well-preserved arrowheads and stone ballista balls, were discovered on the main street that ascended from the city’s gates and the Pool of Siloam to the Temple, which was excavated in recent years.

Report: Iran builds new underground ballistic missile factory
Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Thursday, in a development likely to fuel tension with Arab neighbors and Washington. “Iran’s third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years … We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully,” Fars quoted the head of the Republican Guard’s airspace division, Amirali Hajizadeh, as saying.

South China Sea: US warship sails close to disputed Mischief Reef
A US warship has sailed close to an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, the first challenge to Beijing’s claim to the waters since President Donald Trump took office. According to unnamed sources cited by US media, the USS Dewey passed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef. China said the US vessel had entered its waters “without permission” and its navy had warned it to leave.

Trump in Brussels for ‘tough’ Nato talks amid protests
US President Donald Trump is in Brussels for what his team is describing as “tough” talks with other members of the Nato military alliance. Nato has agreed to Mr Trump’s request to join the US-led coalition against so-called Islamic State. But he may also press members to pay their full financial share.

Boeing is building DARPA’s new hypersonic space plane
A few years ago, DARPA started work on a new experimental aircraft project called the XS-1, a vehicle designed to make launching satellites a faster, less expensive endeavor. Today, that project just took a huge leap forward: DARPA has announced that it’s partnering with Boeing to build its next generation hypersonic space plane.

Brazil’s President Deploys Federal Troops to Quell Protests
Besieged by protests, Brazil’s president on Wednesday deployed federal troops to restore order in the capital, Brasília, after demonstrators calling for his ouster clashed with security forces. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann went on national television on Wednesday afternoon to insist that President Michel Temer was only trying to restore calm in the capital by calling in the troops to patrol some areas.

Jordan holds Israel responsible after Jews ‘dishonored al-Aqsa’
The Jordanian government has strongly condemned the presence of Jews at the al-Aqsa mosque complex on Wednesday after 15 Jews were arrested for bowing on the Temple Mount, where they are not allowed to pray, while others sang the Israeli national anthem. A statement from the Jordanian government slammed Israeli authorities for “allowing Jewish extremists to storm Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif,” which they said “violated the sanctity of the mosque and offended the feelings of Muslims around the world.”

Philippines deploys helicopters in battle to retake city from Islamist rebels
Troops backed by attack helicopters battled dozens of militants linked to the Islamic State group holed up in a besieged city in the southern Philippines on Thursday after attempts to secure volatile areas met heavy resistance. The army sent about 100 soldiers, including U.S.-trained special forces, to retake buildings and streets in mainly Muslim Marawi City held by militants of the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The Trump Collapse Scapegoat Narrative Has Now Been Launched
“I have been warning since long before the election that Trump’s presidency would be the perfect vehicle for central banks and international financiers to divert blame for the economic crisis that would inevitably explode once the Fed moved firmly into interest rate hikes. Every indication since my initial prediction shows that this is the case. The media was building the foundation of the narrative from the moment Trump won the election.”

Another Insurer Quits Obamacare Leaving 25 Counties In Missouri With No Healthcare Options
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City has just joined the growing ranks of insurers across the country that have decided they’ve lost just about enough money on Obamacare and their exit will leave 25 counties in Missouri with zero healthcare options in 2018.

‘Black Lives Matter’ Movement to Be Awarded Peace Prize
The Black Lives Matter movement will receive the Sydney Peace Prize, an award given by the Sydney Peace Foundation — part of the University of Sydney — and be honored at an event in the city in November, the foundation announced this week.

Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?
Police have named 22-year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi as the person suspected of carrying out the suicide attack at Manchester Arena on Monday evening.

If a nuclear bomb explodes nearby, here’s why you should never, ever get in a car
No one could fault you for panicking after the sight and roar of a nuclear blast. But there is one thing you should never do, according to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Hannity Says Liberal Fascists After Sponsors
Sean Hannity says a media watchdog is guilty of “liberal fascism” for targeting advertisers on his Fox News Channel show, as one company announced Wednesday that it would no longer hawk its wares there.


Handout Nation: Combined Enrollment In America’s 4 Largest Safety Net Programs Hits A Record High Of 236 Million

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.  As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million.  Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs.  For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security.  But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million.  And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency? (Read More…)


How deep and wide does the NAR rabbit hole go?

On Wednesday we posted a piece by Amy Spreeman of Berean Research entitled “Who Are Family Research Council’s Watchmen On the Wall?” where she revealed who these so-called watchmen are and what the Watchman on the Wall gathering is all about.  Amy decided to do some more digging into pro-family groups, starting with the Family Research Council and what she discovered about this organization will come as a surprise to many of you. Thanks to Amy’s digging, those who’ve helped keep FRC in business by supporting them financially will learn where their money has been spent. She writes:

How do you discover which networks of Apostles are working together to reclaim America and build God’s Kingdom here on earth? You click. Just keep clicking, and clicking, and clicking some more, until things click. It takes time to research, and if you’re looking for an easy, bullet-point list of what I’m sharing in this report, you should put this aside for when you have time to investigate.

This morning I reported on the Family Research Council’s Watchman On the Wall meeting in Washington D.C., which continued today and features several NAR speakers who teach a different gospel.

After doing a little more digging on this Watchman organization, I found a disturbingly large network of ecumenical groups working together in what the New Apostolic Reformation calls the “Cultural Sphere of influence” in its 7 Mountain Mandate. (If you can take dominion of these seven spheres, you can activate Jesus’ return, as the modern Apostles teach.)

View article →


Feeding Sheep Or Amusing Goats

We discovered the following essay by Archibald Brown, who was a student and contemporary of Charles Spurgeon, in Apprising Ministries‘ archives. Brown expressed his view of entertainment in the Church and his words still ring true today:

Photo credit: Ken Silva

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil.

It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.

From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

View article →


Survey: On Most Moral Issues Americans Are More Permissive Than Ever

For whatever reason, we are failing to be faithful to Christ and his call to proclaim the gospel when we allow Scripture to be perverted and rejected by those who claim to be our fellow believers. Given the choice, many people would certainly prefer to be able to endorse fornication, polygamy, and suicide, and so on, and still be able to consider themselves “good Christian folk.” But that isn’t an option, and we shouldn’t pretend that the moral requirements of Scripture are optional for Christians.

The Story: According to a new Gallup survey, a record number of Americans now consider behaviors that the Bible condemns to be “morally acceptable.”

The Background: Since the early 2000s, Gallup has tracked Americans’s views on the moral acceptability of various issues and behaviors. The overall trend clearly points toward a higher level of acceptance of a number of behaviors that the Bible clearly condemns. In fact, Gallup notes, the moral acceptability ratings for eight of the 19 issues measured since the early 2000s are at record highs.

The first number in each category list the number who consider the behavior to be “morally acceptable,” while the second number is the percentage that consider it to be “morally wrong.” The third number is the percent change from 2001 to 2017. An asterisk indicates and issue that is at a record high level of acceptance.

  • Sex between an unmarried man and woman* — 69 / 28 (16 percent)
  • Gay or lesbian relations* — 63 / 33 (23 percent)
  • Having a baby outside of marriage* — 62 / 33 (17 percent since 2002)
  • Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos — 61 / 33 (9 percent since 2002)
  • Doctor assisted suicide* — 57 / 37 (8 percent)
  • Abortion — 43 / 49 (1 percent)
  • Pornography* — 36 / 61 (6 percent)
  • Sex between teenagers — 36 / 59 (4 percent since 2013)
  • Suicide — 18 / 76 (6 percent)
  • Polygamy* — 17 / 80 (9 percent)
  • Married men and women having an affair — 9 / 88 (2 percent)

As Gallup notes: “Of the 19 issues included in this year’s poll, 13 show meaningful change in a liberal direction over time, regardless of whether they are currently at their high point in Gallup’s trend. No issues show meaningful change toward more traditionally conservative positions compared with when Gallup first measured them.”

Why it Matters: Currently, a majority of Americans now believe that fornication between adults, homosexual behavior, having a child outside of marriage, and doctor-assisted killing to be “morally acceptable.” If the current trends continue, in 10 years (2027) more than one in four Americans will also consider polygamy and suicide to be morally acceptable.

Read More

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 25, 2017

Obama Doubled Your Health Care Premium

HHS report shows that average premiums have doubled since ObamaCare’s full implementation. But Republicans are bad?

The Foundation

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” —James Madison (1792)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 25

  • World stocks hit record after Fed minutes (Read More)
  • OPEC extends oil output cut by nine months to fight glut (Read More)
  • Father and Brother of Manchester Bomber Arrested in Libya (Read More)
  • In testing Montana vote for Trump, Republican caught up in brawl (Read More)
  • NATO to Take New Counterterrorism Measures (Read More)
  • Trump’s Toxic Budget Is a Cheap Win With the Right People (Read More)
  • Pope ‘terrific’, Saudi ‘spectacular’: Trump waxes lyrical on foreign tour (Read More)
  • Hedge Funds Squeezed by World’s Highest Rents Are Moving Out (Read More)
  • Talent Battle: Hedge Funds vs. Silicon Valley (Read More)
  • China Hitches Yuan to the Dollar, Buying Rare Calm (Read More)
  • China’s Downgrade Could Lead to a Mountain of Debt (Read More)
  • Data Mining to Find Tax Cheaters (Read More)
  • In first under Trump, U.S. warship challenges Beijing’s claims in South China Sea (Read More)
  • Change and Culture Collide in America’s Prison Capital (Read More)
  • Iran says it has built third underground ballistic missile factory (Read More)
  • Indonesian police launch raid as Jakarta attacks linked to Islamic State (Read More)
  • Lack of new launches leaves Ford playing catchup with GM (Read More)
  • Ford to name new heads for Europe, Asia: FT (Read More)
  • Deerfield Partners Snared in Probe of Leaking Consultants (Read More)
  • Beijing Moves to Ease Jitters Over Converted Commercial Housing (Read More)
  • Trump Turns His Back on International Tourists (Read More)
  • Israeli police question U.S. casino mogul Adelson in Netanyahu probe (Read More)
  • Philippines deploys helicopters in battle to retake city from Islamist rebels (Read More)
  • Sears posts first quarterly profit in nearly two years on cost cuts (Read More)
  • Best Buy quarterly comparable sales rise unexpectedly (Read More)
  • Why a Giant New Eataly Won’t Sell Parmesan Cheese or Parma Ham (Read More)

A La Carte (May 25)

Today’s Kindle deals include several titles, as usual. You know how it goes…

Westminster Books is offering a good discount on a number of books, including the KNOW series by The Gospel Coalition.

The Most Marginalized Minority

“Is it possible, despite our allegiance to justice and compassion, that we have left the disabled on the fringes, that we are guilty of being selective in our compassion? Have we neglected to ‘invite . . . the crippled, the lame, the blind’ to the feast of grace (Luke 14:13)?”

The Weight of the Church

“Finding a solid local church is more important than finding a dream job or attending a dream college, for the simply reason that God has determined to shepherd His people to glory through the ministry of the local church.”

How Do I Forgive Someone Who Refuses to Say Sorry? (Video)

This is a great answer to a common question.

These Present Sufferings

Mark Johnston writes about the horror in Manchester. “The grief of those affected has been broadcast widely and it is impossible not to be deeply touched by their anguish – anguish repeatedly expressed in gut-wrenching groans. No matter how much the media and its pundits try to make sense of what has happened, words are inadequate to plumb the depths of pain.” (Also, read this article by a pastor in the Manchester area.)

How the Post Office Made America (Video)

It turns out the humble post office played an outsized role in American history.

Running to the Pantry of Good Works

Legalism is a sneaky foe. Erik says, “I am not a legalist, and you probably aren’t either. However, I still leave the pantry door of good works open. I suspect you do too.”

6 Ways to Avoid Delayed Adulthood

“How can the next generation move toward maturity? How can adolescents grow into young adults? How can college students move through the college years with increasing integrity, character, maturity, skill, and productivity?”

Flashback: Can You Help Me Find a Good Church

How can you find a church in a new area? I recommend beginning with a handful of church directories, each of which lists like-minded churches. Here are the best three I know of.

Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves. —Joni Eareckson Tada


Top Headlines – 5/25/2017

Trump promises peace push after ‘fantastic’ pope talks

US secretary of state: Trump pressured Israel, Palestinians to renew peace talks

Tillerson: Trump ‘Put a Lot of Pressure’ on Netanyahu and Abbas to Compromise

Netanyahu: ‘Israel is not responsible for delaying resolution of the conflict’

Mahmoud Abbas’ office: ‘Netanyahu’s remarks hurt peace efforts’

Trump visit could cost Netanyahu dearly

US said pushing Israel to transfer parts of West Bank to PA administrative rule

The ‘ultimate deal’? Trump’s Middle East peace plan is actually 15 years old

Dating conflict at 50 years old, Trump appears to quietly adopt Arab stance

Jerusalem Day Celebration Underscores Israeli-Palestinian Divide

Education Minister Naftali Bennett: ‘We will not divide the land with our enemies’

Netanyahu: Temple Mount will forever remain under Israel’s control

Trump Says He Prayed for Wisdom From God While Touching Western Wall

Jordan slams Israel for allowing violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque

Hamas to execute top terrorist’s ‘assassins’ on Thursday

How Facebook flouts Holocaust denial laws except where it fears being sued

New database charts 20,000 at-risk archaeological sites in the Middle East

PM says US agreed to boost Israel military aid amid concern over Saudi deal

Israel’s next security concern: A Middle East arms race

Russian defense minister boasts about arms upgrade

Fake Israel story exposes real tensions between Qatar and Gulf

US raid killed five Yemen civilians, says rights group disputing official story

US looking into upping sanctions on Iran, Treasury head says

Syrian army says senior Islamic State militant killed

Battle for Mosul: IS ‘using chemical weapons’

NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

European Leaders Hope to Win Trump’s Favor

Trump faces rougher reception in NATO, EU meetings

Trump has done what Obama didn’t: Scare NATO into tracking defense spending

Trump’s Anti-Terrorism Call Resonates at NATO After Manchester Attack

London ‘furious’ at US for Manchester bomb probe leaks

After intel leak, UK freezes out US on Manchester bombing

Manchester bombing probe expands with arrests on two continents

Manchester Arena bomb maker at large and could strike again

With threat ‘very high’, France set to extend state of emergency

Armed Troops Patrol British Landmarks After Manchester Attack

Report: Manchester Bomber Was Child Of Libyan Refugees

Manchester bomber Salman Abedi’s father and brothers arrested in Libya, linked to ISIS, Al Qaeda

Bomber’s father fought against Gaddafi regime with ‘terrorist’ group

Indonesian president urges calm after suspected suicide attacks in Jakarta

Philippines’ Duterte may place entire country under martial law if the threat of Islamic State spreads

Mindanao: Churchgoers ‘taken hostage’ amid Marawi siege

In a First Under Trump, a U.S. Warship Challenges Beijing’s Claims in the South China Sea

N. Korea calls S. Korea’s border firing reckless provocation

North Korea threat: US official warns ‘inevitable’ regime develops ICBM

Why China’s Growing Debt Load Worries the World

Brazil’s president struggles to retain power as political crisis deepens

Brazil’s Temer deploys army as protesters battle police

Get Ready to Unpack for Airport Security – Travelers should expect new procedures at TSA checkpoints

‘Trump trauma’ on the way out? Political anxiety appears to be fading, says psychiatric survey

Poll: Majority says mainstream media publishes fake news

Black Lives Matter awarded 2017 Sydney peace prize

Trump wants to deport MS-13 gang members. El Salvador is dreading their return.

Obama admin knew gang members were part of illegal immigrant surge: Whistleblower

Ex-Trump adviser Page rips Obama-era ‘surveillance,’ wants to testify in public

Sean Hannity loses advertisers amid uproar over slain DNC staffer conspiracy theories

Moscow discussed swaying Trump via advisers, US intel said to find

In Modern Cyber War, the Spies Can Become Targets, Too

Vermont DMV Caught Using Illegal Facial Recognition Program

China shuts some live streaming sites, punishes companies

UCF student hacks system to change failing grade, police say

Raccoon causes thousands to lose power

NJ Emergency Alert System Accidentally Activates, Sends Nuclear Warnings to Some TVs

Area 51: Leaked video purports alien craft being tested at secret military base

Boeing is building DARPA’s new hypersonic space plane

Scientists Find Extra Layer Of Plate Tectonics Causing Mystery Tremors Across The Pacific

The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Nikolski, Alaska

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Malili, Indonesia

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Tambakrejo, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Vaini, Tonga

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Cintalapa de Figueroa, Mexico

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Western Indian-Antarctic Ridge

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 34,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 19,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 13,000ft

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

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast Update Calls For An Above-Average Number Of Storms

Deadly Chetek Tornado Was One of Wisconsin’s Longest on Record

Pope Lends Weight to G-7 Push to Bind Trump to Climate Deal

Scientists race against time as Yemen’s deadly cholera outbreak spirals

Zika Virus Was Spreading Quietly a Year Before Anyone Knew, Gene Study Shows

U.S. Senate’s McConnell sees tough path for passing healthcare bill

23 million more uninsured with GOP health bill, analysts say

Another Insurer Quits Obamacare Leaving 25 Counties In Missouri With No Healthcare Options

ObamaCare on federal exchanges increased by average 105% since ’13: report

Drug counselors overdose at addiction facility

Hormone injections help spread the love between strangers, study shows

Patriots to sponsor LGBT ‘Gay Bowl’

Children Must Be Taught Transgenderism, Homosexuality Starting in Nursery School, Teachers Say

New police taskforce to target Indonesian gays

Same-Sex Marriage Is Not A Western Idea, Says Lead Lawyer In Historic Taiwan Ruling

Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.

Christianity Growing in North Korea Despite Persecution, Defector Says

Who are Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall”?

What is the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (SDM)?

An example of NAR Spiritual Fathers, Spirit of Sonship and Orphan Spirit heresy in false prophecy

Update on Warren Smith

Kong Hee, City Harvest leaders permanently barred from managing charities

Man, 70, accuses Miami Gardens pastor of taking his dream home

New York ‘Concerned Clergy for Choice’ Group Gathers in State Capitol in Support of Abortion, Contraception

Judge Finds No Recourse for Mother Whose Son Obtained Hormone Treatments Without Parental Consent

Melania Trump reveals she is Catholic

LA Times Publishes Editorial Encouraging Casting Spells on President Trump

Archaeologists Find Evidence of Jerusalem’s Destruction 2,000 Years Ago

Posted: 25 May 2017 08:01 AM PDT

As Israelis celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem this week, archaeologists have found evidence of the battle for Jerusalem two millennia ago…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Reveals Contents of His Silent Prayer to God During Historic Visit to the Western Wall

Posted: 25 May 2017 06:22 AM PDT

President Donald Trump made history on Monday when he became the first sitting U.S. president to pray and leave a note at the Western Wall…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Woman marries a train Station claiming she’s spent 36 years in love with it!

Posted: 25 May 2017 06:13 AM PDT

A Californian woman has “married” a train station called Daidra after spending 36 years in love with it.  Carol Santa Fe, 45, from San Diego,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Social Fabric of America Is Eroding

Posted: 25 May 2017 06:06 AM PDT

(By U.S Senator Mike Lee) Our nation, today, faces very real economic challenges. Economic growth during the recovery has been meager and uneven.  The U.S….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Taiwan War Games Simulating Chinese Island Attack

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:55 AM PDT

Taiwan’s military practiced repelling a simulated Chinese assault on an outlying island group on Thursday as part of annual military drills addressing the threat from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Iran builds third underground ballistic missile factory…

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:50 AM PDT

Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a senior…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US warship challenges Beijing claims in South Sea…

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:45 AM PDT

China on Thursday accused the US of trespassing after an American warship sailed near a reef claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hawaii Is Preparing a New Nuclear Contingency Plan Because of North Korea

Posted: 24 May 2017 07:34 PM PDT

(Reported By Sarah Emerson) FOIA documents show the Hawaii Department of Defense is about to revamp its emergency plans for a nuclear missile attack.  Growing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Villains in Upcoming Video Game are Christian Right-Wing Extremists

Posted: 24 May 2017 07:20 PM PDT

Far Cry 5 will tell the story of a militant Christian cult, if a piece of artwork released today by publisher Ubisoft is any indication….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

California Scientists Warns “The Big One is Going to Happen, No Matter How Much You Want to Deny it”

Posted: 24 May 2017 07:13 PM PDT

Fear of earthquakes is part of life in California.  But people experience this anxiety in different ways. For some, the fear prompts them to take…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: US attack on North Korea imminent?

Posted: 24 May 2017 07:08 PM PDT

The US is preparing to attack North Korea, according to Geopolitical Futures founder George Friedman — setting the stage for a difficult, messy war with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Target Boycott Reaches 1.5 Million; Retailer Won’t Back Down on Bathrooms

Posted: 24 May 2017 07:02 PM PDT

Despite slumping sales, falling stock prices, and 1.5 million people signing a pledge not to shop at Target, the retail giant still has no plans…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New ISIS video shows Las Vegas landmarks

Posted: 24 May 2017 06:57 PM PDT

Following the Manchester bombing, a new video has been released by ISIS that calls for even more attacks and Las Vegas could be a target….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Crosshairs Now on Hannity as Advertisers Begin Pulling Ads

Posted: 24 May 2017 06:49 PM PDT

A number of companies have pulled ads from Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show Hannity after he pledged to continue investigating circumstances surrounding the death…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korean Nuclear Threat ‘Inevitable’ if left Unchecked

Posted: 24 May 2017 06:45 PM PDT

North Korea will eventually obtain a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States if left unchecked, a top US intelligence official said.  “If left…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Vets Outraged After HOA Limits When American Flags Can Be Displayed

Posted: 24 May 2017 06:41 PM PDT

Residents in a Georgia neighborhood are outraged after their homeowners association said they can only display American flags outside their homes 23 days out of the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Madrid Awakening? Quake Swarm Happening In Missouri Following Quake in Ohio

Posted: 24 May 2017 03:39 PM PDT

According to earlier reports, A Magnitude 3.4 earthquake struck about a mile south of McArthur in Vinton County, southeast Ohio. The epicenter was just off…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Blasphemous Comedy Will Make You Sick to Your Stomach

Posted: 24 May 2017 03:19 PM PDT

On Sunday, June 11, at 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. CT, TNT network will televise an extremely graphic and blasphemous program like none we have ever…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DISTRESS OF NATIONS: Troops deployed, ministries evacuated as violent protesters smash govt buildings in Brazil

Posted: 24 May 2017 03:13 PM PDT

Brazilian government ministries have been evacuated amid massive protests in the country’s capital, Brasilia. Demonstrators reportedly attacked and even “plundered” some ministerial buildings. Police responded…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Manchester Arena bomb maker at large and could strike again

Posted: 24 May 2017 03:07 PM PDT

The person who made the bomb that blew up Manchester Arena is still at large and could strike again at any time. Intelligence services now…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘The View’ Bashes Trump as Unpresidential for Calling Terrorists ‘Evil Losers’

Posted: 24 May 2017 03:00 PM PDT

Following the horrific terror attack in Manchester, England, President Trump slammed the terrorists behind the bombing, calling them “evil losers.”  On “The View” on Tuesday,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Which Boat Are You In?

Posted: 24 May 2017 01:36 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will show you how two men were both in boats but one was in the will of God…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why the Date of Trump’s Visit to Israel Is Significant

Posted: 24 May 2017 12:40 PM PDT

(By Steve Strang) Sundown May 23 marks the beginning of “Jerusalem Day,” celebrated all over the world by Jews—the 50th anniversary of the day Jerusalem…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

2 explosions rock Jakarta, Indonesia, in suspected suicide bombing

Posted: 24 May 2017 12:23 PM PDT

A suspected suicide bombing near a bus terminal in Indonesia’s capital Wednesday night killed a policeman and injured four other officers, police said.  Vice National…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sun Releases CME Towards Earth

Posted: 24 May 2017 12:14 PM PDT

An eruption near the center of Earth-facing side of the Sun produced a partial HALO CME (coronal mass ejection) during the early UTC hours of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: At least three people have been stabbed in Manhattan, NY

Posted: 24 May 2017 12:08 PM PDT

At least three people were stabbed in Midtown Manhattan Wednesday afternoon, police said. The three victims were hospitalized and are likely to survive. The suspected…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Earthquake reported in southeastern Ohio

Posted: 24 May 2017 12:02 PM PDT

An earthquake has been reported in southeast Ohio.  According to the United States Geological Survey website, the quake happened about a mile south of McArthur…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Mysterious Tremors Felt Across the Pacific….

Posted: 24 May 2017 11:52 AM PDT

For decades, a mysterious series of earthquakes has rocked the Pacific, although the source has remained a mystery. Now, researchers believe they may have found…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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May 25, 2017: Verse of the day

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4:7, 8 Here John resumes the subject of love for one’s brother. He emphasizes that love is a duty, consistent with the character of God. As has been mentioned previously, John is not thinking of love that is common to all men, but of that love to the children of God which has been implanted in those who have been born again. Love is of God as to its origin, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. It does not say that God loves. That is true, but John is emphasizing that God is love. Love is His nature. There is no love in the true sense but that which finds its source in Him. The words “God is love” are well worth all the languages in earth or heaven. G. S. Barrett calls them:

… the greatest words ever spoken in human speech, the greatest words in the whole Bible.… It is impossible to suggest even in briefest outline all that these words contain, for no human and no created intellect has ever, or will ever, fathom their unfathomable meaning; but we may reverently say that this one sentence concerning God contains the key to all God’s works and way … the mystery of creation, … redemption … and the Being of God Himself.[1]


  1. Dear friends, let us love one another,

for love comes from God.

Everyone who loves has been born of God

and knows God.

  1. Whoever does not love does not know God,

because God is love.

These two verses and the following two are among the treasured passages of the entire epistle. They speak of love that originates in God and describe the believer as a person who loves and knows God. By contrast, the unbeliever does not love because he does not know God.

  1. “Dear friends, let us love one another.” John addresses the readers with the familiar term dear friends (2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1, 7, 11) which literally means “beloved.” He includes in the sentence an exhortation to love one another. He is not discussing the affection that family members have for each other. Rather, he writes the verb love, which means “divine love.” John indicates that God initiates love, showers it upon his people, and expects that in turn they express this same love to each other.
  2. “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” This, then, is the distinctive mark of the believer. The person who is born of God (2:29; 3:9; 5:1) is a window through which the love of God shines into the world. The believer expresses his love to his fellow man by doing for his neighbor what he himself wishes that others do for him. In short, he shows his love by obeying the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). His love is genuinely unselfish.

The believer loves his neighbor as himself because, as John writes, the believer knows God. That is, he has fellowship with God the Father and his Son (1:3) and thus reflects the virtue of love.

Incidentally, when John says, “[he] knows God,” he may have intended to refute the Gnostic heretics of his day who prided themselves on having knowledge of God.

  1. “Whoever does not love does not know God.” John compares the believer with the unbeliever and observes that when love is absent, knowledge of God is nonexistent. The person who fails to commune with God in prayer and neglects to read the Bible cannot be the instrument through which God demonstrates his divine love. The unbeliever has not even begun to know God. Without knowledge of God, there is no love. Love and knowledge of God are two sides of the same coin.
  2. “God is love.” Children learn the words at home and in church. Adults treasure these three words, for in them John has stated one of God’s characteristics: love. This means not only that God loves his creation and his people, or that God is full of love. It means that in his very being God is love. And this is the message John conveys in his epistle.

Augustine observes, “If nothing were said in praise of love throughout the pages of this Epistle, if nothing whatever throughout the pages of the Scriptures, and this one thing only were all we were told by the voice of the Spirit of God, For God is love; nothing more ought we require.”[2]


Perfect Love and the Character of God

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (4:7–8)

John addressed his audience as beloved (agapētoi, “[divinely] loved ones”) (cf. 2:7; 3:2, 21; 4:1, 11) whom he urged to love one another. Again, unlike emotional, physical, or friendship love, agapē (love) is the love of self-sacrificing service (Phil. 2:2–5; Col. 3:12–14; cf. Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 10:23–24; 13:4–7), the love granted to someone who needs to be loved (Heb. 6:10; 1 Peter 2:17; cf. Rom. 12:15), not necessarily to someone who is attractive or lovable.

The first reason believers are to extend such sacrificial love to one another is that love is from God. Just as God is life (Ps. 36:9) and the source of eternal life (1:1–2; 3:1–2, 9; 5:12; 2 Tim. 1:1; Titus 1:2), and just as He is light (1:5–7; 2:8–11; cf. Isa. 60:19), He is also love (cf. 4:16). Therefore, if believers possess His life and walk in His light (righteousness and truth), they will also both possess and manifest His love, since everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Because they are God’s children, manifesting His nature, they will reflect His love to others.

As alluded to earlier, the love John refers to is the divine, perfect love that God gives only to His own. The verb rendered is born is a perfect passive form of gennaō and could be literally translated “has been begotten.” Everyone God has saved in the past continues to give evidence of that fact in the present. Those who possess the life of God have the capacity and the experience of loving. In contrast, the one who does not love does not know God. Those whose lives are not characterized by love for others are not Christians, no matter what they claim. The Jewish religionists (scribes, Pharisees, and other leaders) of Jesus’ day, as well as the false teachers in the church of John’s day, knew a lot about God, but they did not really know Him (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 3:7). The absence of God’s love in their lives revealed their unregenerate condition as conclusively as did their aberrant theology.

God by nature is love, and therefore He defines love; it does not define Him. People constantly impose on God a human view of love, but He transcends any such human limitations. That God is love explains a number of things in the biblical worldview. First, it explains the reason He created. In eternity past, within the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, God the Father purposed, as a love gift to His Son, to redeem a people who would honor and glorify the Son (cf. John 6:39; 17:9–15). Thus, though God existed in perfect Trinitarian solitude, He created a race of beings out of which He would love and redeem those who would in turn love Him forever.

Second, the truth that God is love explains human choice. He designed sinners to know and love Him by an act of their wills (cf. John 7:17–18), though not apart from the work of His Spirit (cf. John 1:12–13; Eph. 2:5; Titus 3:5). God’s greatest commandment is that people love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29–30).

Third, the reality that God is love also explains His providence. He orchestrates all the circumstances of life, in all their wonder, beauty, and even difficulty, to reveal many evidences of His love (Pss. 36:6; 145:9; Rom. 8:28).

Fourth, that He is love explains the divine plan of redemption. If God operated only on the basis of His law, He would convict people of their sin, and justly consign everyone to spend forever in hell (cf. Ps. 130:3). But His love provided a remedy for sin through the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:21; Gal. 4:4–5) on behalf of all who repent of their sin and trust in His mercy (John 3:14–15). In the most well-known statement of His earthly ministry, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16; cf. 2 Cor. 5:19–20; 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 3:4–5).

God’s general love for mankind manifests itself in several ways. First, He expresses His love and goodness to all through common grace. The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9; cf. Matt. 5:45). As part of this, God reveals His love through His compassion, primarily in that He delays His final judgment against unrepentant sinners (Gen. 15:16; Acts 17:30–31; Rom. 3:25; cf. Gen. 18:20–33). That compassion is further expressed in His myriad of warnings to sinners (Jer. 7:13–15, 23–25; 25:4–6; Ezek. 33:7–8; Zeph. 2:1–3; Luke 3:7–9; 1 Cor. 10:6–11; Rev. 3:1–3). He finds no pleasure in the damnation of anyone (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 2 Peter 3:9). Accompanied with His warnings, God extends His love to every part of the world through His general offer of the gospel (Matt. 11:28; John 7:37; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11). As Jesus told the apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15; cf. Matt. 28:19).

That general love, however, is limited to this life. After death, unrepentant sinners will experience God’s final wrath and judgment for all eternity (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:12–15). But God has a special, perfect, eternal love that He lavishes on everyone who believes. The apostle John aptly characterized that love Jesus displayed to the apostles when he wrote at the beginning of the upper room narrative: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1b, niv). Paul later celebrated that special love in his letter to the Ephesians:

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4–7)

(For a complete discussion of the love of God, see John MacArthur, The God Who Loves [Nashville: Word], 1996, 2001.)[3]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2320). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 330–331). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 165–167). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

May 25 – Living Courageously (Thaddaeus)

The twelve apostles included “Thaddaeus” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

Victorious Christian living requires great courage.

Thaddaeus was a man of many identities. In the King James translation of Matthew 10:3 he is called “Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus.” He is also called “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) and “Judas (not Iscariot)” (John 14:22).

Judas, which means “Jehovah leads,” was probably the name given him at birth, with Thaddaeus and Lebbeus added later as nicknames to reflect his character. Apparently Thaddaeus was the nickname given to him by his family. It comes from a Hebrew root word that refers to the female breast. Basically it means a “breast-child.” Perhaps Thaddaeus was the youngest child in the family or was especially dear to his mother. Lebbeus comes from a Hebrew root that means “heart.” Literally it means a “heart-child” and speaks of someone who is courageous. That nickname was likely given him by his friends, who saw him as a man of boldness and courage.

Early church tradition tells us that Thaddaeus was tremendously gifted with the power of God to heal the sick. It is said that a certain Syrian king named Adgar was very ill and sent for Thaddaeus to come and heal him. On his way to the king, Thaddaeus reportedly healed hundreds of people throughout Syria. When he finally reached the king, he healed him and then preached Christ to him. As a result, the king became a Christian. The country, however, was thrown into chaos, and a vengeful nephew of the king had Thaddaeus imprisoned, then beaten to death with a club. If that tradition is true, it confirms that Thaddaeus was a man of great courage.

It takes courage to die for Christ, but it also takes courage to live for Him. That’s why Paul said that God hasn’t “given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). Each day trust in God’s promises and rely on His Spirit. That’s how you can face each new challenge with courage and confidence.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the courage He has given you in the past, and ask Him to help you face future spiritual battles without retreat or compromise.

For Further Study: Read Daniel 3:1–30. ✧ Why were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego punished by King Nebuchadnezzar? ✧ How did God honor their courage?[1]


Thaddaeus (Judas the Son of James)

The second apostle listed in the third group is Thaddaeus. Based on less reliable Greek manuscripts, the Authorized text reads, “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” From Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 we learn that he was also called Judas the son of James. It is likely that Judas was his original name and that Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus were descriptive names, somewhat like nicknames, added by his family or friends.

Thaddaeus comes from the Hebrew word shad, which refers to a female breast. The name means “breast child,” and was probably a common colloquialism for the youngest child of a family, the permanent “baby” of the family who was the last to be nursed by his mother.

Although the name Lebbaeus is not found in what are considered the superior Greek manuscripts, and is therefore not in most modern translations, it may well have been one of this apostle’s names. It is based on the Hebrew leb (“heart”) and means “heart child,” which suggests he was known for his generosity, love, and courage.

On the night before His arrest and trial, Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21). At that time Thaddaeus spoke his only words recorded in Scripture: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ ” (v. 22).

Judas (Thaddaeus) obviously was thinking only of outward, visible disclosure, and he wondered how Jesus could manifest Himself to those who loved Him without also manifesting Himself to everyone else. Like most Jews of his day, he was looking for Christ to establish an earthly kingdom. How, he wondered, could the Messiah sit on the throne of David and rule the entire earth without manifesting Himself to His subjects? Thaddaeus may also have wondered why Jesus would disclose Himself to a small group of insignificant men and not to the great religious leaders in Jerusalem and the powerful political leaders in Rome.

Jesus did not rebuke Thaddaeus for his misunderstanding, which he sincerely and humbly expressed. In light of common Jewish expectations, the question was appropriate and insightful, and it gave Jesus the opportunity to further explain what He meant. He proceeded to reiterate what He had just said and added the negative side of the truth: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23–24). Christ was not at that time establishing His earthly kingdom, and the disclosure He was then making was of His divinity and authority as spiritual Lord and Savior. That disclosure can only be recognized by those who trust and love Him, and the genuineness of such trust and love is evidenced by obedience to His Word Manifestation is limited to reception.

A radio or television broadcast can have a great range, reaching virtually the entire globe by use of satellites. But its programs are only “disclosed” to those who have proper receivers. The rest of the world has no awareness of the broadcast, although its electronic waves completely surround them.

Henry David Thoreau once observed that “it takes two people to speak the truth, the one who says it and the one who hears it.” Those who will not listen to the gospel cannot hear it, no matter how clearly and forcefully it may be proclaimed. Jesus Christ was God incarnate, yet “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10–11). During His three years of ministry, countless thousands of people-mostly God’s chosen people, the Jews-saw and heard Jesus. Yet only a few had more than passing interest in who He really was or in what He said. The god of this world so blinded their minds that when they looked they could not see (2 Cor. 4:4).

Someone has commented that if you tore a beautiful hymn out of a hymnal and threw it down on the sidewalk, you could expect many different reactions from those who saw it. A dog would sniff at it and then go his way. A street cleaner would pick it up and throw it in the trash. A greedy person might pick it up expecting to find a valuable document of some sort. An English teacher might read it and admire its literary quality. But a spiritually-minded believer who picked it up and read it would have his soul blessed. The content would have been the same for all those who came in contact with it, but its meaning and value could only be understood by a person receptive to its godly truth.

Only those whose hearts are purified by love and who walk in obedience to God’s Word can perceive Christ’s truth, beauty, and glory. Thaddaeus was such a person.

Tradition holds that Thaddaeus was specially blessed with the gift of healing and that through him the Lord healed many hundreds of people in Syria. He is said to have healed the king of that country and won him to the Lord. The supposed conversion threw the land into such turmoil that the king’s unbelieving nephew had Thaddaeus bludgeoned to death with a club, which became the symbol for that apostle.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 158). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

MAY 25 – GOD’S PLAIN, GOOD PEOPLE: ALWAYS A BENEDICTION

For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people were added unto the LORD.

ACTS 11:24

We ought to thank God for the examples in the Bible of so many men who were good—even though they were not considered great!

We are grateful not that they failed to achieve greatness but that by the grace of God they managed to acquire plain goodness.

These men move quietly enough across the pages of the Bible, but where they walk there is pleasant weather and good companionship. Such was Isaac, who was the son of a great father and the father of a great son, but who himself never rose above mediocrity. Such were Boaz the ancestor of King David, Joseph the husband of Mary, and Barnabas the son of consolation.

Every pastor knows this kind—the plain people who have nothing to recommend them but their deep devotion to their Lord and the fruit of the Spirit which they all unconsciously display. These are the first to come forward when there is work to be done and the last to go home when there is prayer to be made.

Their presence is a benediction wherever they go. They have no greatness to draw to them the admiring eyes of carnal men but are content to be good men and full of the Holy Ghost!

When they die they leave behind them a fragrance of Christ that lingers long after the cheap celebrities of the day are forgotten.

We extend this tribute to Christian brothers and sisters in spite of the fact that in our world there is not supposed to be anything dramatic in faithfulness or newsworthy in goodness![1]


  1. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large crowd was added to the Lord.

We make these observations:

  • News. Good news travels fast! Travelers who arrived in Jerusalem reported to the church the phenomenal influence of the Christian faith and the resultant increase of believers in the city of Antioch. First, the Jerusalem church received the news about the Samaritans who had accepted the gospel. In consequence, its members sent Peter and John to them (8:14). Next, the mother church heard about the Gentiles in Antioch who accepted the gospel. In response, the church commissioned Barnabas as the representative of the apostles. Note, then, that the Jerusalem church remained in charge of developments abroad.

When the news came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, the apostles were perhaps in other regions (compare v. 30). The Jewish Christians had no objections to Gentiles entering the church, primarily because Peter had told them about his experience in Caesarea. Although Caesarea was located in Palestine, in the minds of the Jews the city of Antioch was the capital of a heathen nation. Nevertheless, the church in Jerusalem voiced no dissent. Instead the church leaders looked for a person who could represent them and who would understand the situation in Antioch. They appointed Barnabas.

Finally, the Jerusalem church could not take lightly the increase of the church in Antioch. In time, the Antiochean church became the mission center for the Christian faith and overtook the mother church of Jerusalem. Even though Jerusalem provided leadership and direction, Antioch had vision and ambition. From Antioch, the gospel sounded forth throughout the countries that bordered the Mediterranean Sea. Antioch became the Gentile church that occupied a strategic position between the Jewish center in Jerusalem and the Gentile churches Paul had founded. After the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, Antioch filled the leadership vacuum in the church at large.

  • Action. As a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian and native of Cyprus, Barnabas is the right person to promote the development of the church in Antioch. He comes not to exert authority, but to help the believers grow in faith.

Perhaps traveling along the coastal area, visiting and strengthening churches along the way, Barnabas eventually arrives in Antioch. He is amazed at the grace of God when he observes the harmony that exists between Jew and Gentile in the Antiochean church. With spiritual eyes, he looks at the development of the church and gives God the glory. Barnabas rejoices when he sees the effect of Christ’s gospel among the people and, true to his name—Son of Encouragement (4:36)—he immediately begins to encourage the believers to remain true to the Lord. He realizes that these recent converts may become an easy prey of Satan. Therefore, on a daily basis Barnabas instructs them to be true to Jesus. He urges them to cling to Christ with determination (compare 13:43; 14:22).

  • Result. Luke expresses his admiration for the spiritual characteristics of Barnabas. He calls him “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” The description matches that of Stephen (6:5; 7:55) and thus puts Barnabas on the same level as Stephen. The adjective good, applied to Barnabas, denotes the quality of excellence. Luke describes Barnabas as good in the sense that this person is of sterling character, wholesome, capable, and helpful. Filled with the Holy Spirit and faith, Barnabas lives in daily fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). The presence of the Holy Spirit and complete trust in Jesus furnish him with serene stability, genuine love for his fellow man, and unparalleled dedication to the work of the Lord.

As a result, the church at Antioch continues to increase in numbers. Writes Luke, “A large crowd was added to the Lord.” In fact, this is the second time that Luke reports the growth of the Antiochean church (v. 21). The church experiences a development that is unique in the Gentile world and in a sense indicates still greater things to come.[2]


11:24 full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. This does not describe a single experience but a general characteristic of Barnabas’s life. The persecution by Herod (12:1–19) and Herod’s death (12:20–23) would have been inserted at this point in the narrative if Luke had been writing everything in exact chronological order, because Herod died in a.d. 44 (see 12:23), and Paul apparently stayed in Tarsus until a.d. 45, when Barnabas went there and summoned him to Antioch (11:25–26). But Luke here departs from strict chronological order because he is telling the story of the church in Antioch. He continues on this topic until v. 30 and then turns to discuss what happened to Herod at “about that time” (12:1). Cf. notes on Gal. 1:18; 2:1.[3]


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

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 420–421). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2106). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

MAY 25 – BRAGGING ABOUT GOD

That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion.

1 Peter 4:11

Basic beliefs about the Person and the nature of God have changed so much that there are among us now men and women who find it easy to brag about the benefits they receive from God—without ever a thought or a desire to know the true meaning of worship!

I have immediate reactions to such an extreme misunderstanding of the true nature of a holy and sovereign God, for I believe that the very last thing God desires is to have shallow-minded and worldly Christians bragging about Him.

Beyond that, it does not seem to be very well recognized that God’s highest desire is that every one of His believing children should so love and so adore Him that we are continually in His presence, in spirit and in truth.

Something wonderful and miraculous and life changing takes place within the human soul when Jesus Christ is invited in to take His rightful place. That is what God anticipated when He wrought the plan of salvation. He intended to make worshipers out of rebels; to restore the place of worship which our first parents knew when they were created!

Lord, this morning I want to give You first place in my life all over again. It’s all about You, Lord. You deserve all my worship.[1]


4:11 Even if a man is gifted to preach or teach, he must be sure that the words he speaks are the very words God would have him say on that particular occasion. This is what is meant by the oracles of God. It is not enough for a man simply to preach from the Bible. He should also have the assurance that he is presenting the particular message intended by God for that audience at that time.

Anyone who performs any kind of service should do it with the humble recognition that it is God who empowers him. Then the glory will go to God—to whom it belongs.

A man should not become proud no matter how highly gifted he is in Christian service. The gift did not originate by his own effort, but was given to him from above. In fact, he has nothing which he did not receive. All service should be performed so that God gets the credit.

As Peter points out, this honor is presented to the Father through Jesus Christ as Mediator, and also because of what God has done for us through Him. To this blessed Savior belongs praise and power forever and ever. Amen.[2]


11a. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

  • Speaking

How are God’s gifts to the believer put to use? Peter singles out an example to which everyone who has witnessed for the Lord can relate. The pastor, teacher, evangelist, instructor, and anyone who has communicated the gospel can testify to the words Jesus spoke to disciples who would even risk arrest: “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:19–20; also see Luke 12:11–12).

The power of the Holy Spirit is at work in anyone who speaks the very words of God to edify others. Any preacher or teacher of God’s Word can testify to this indwelling power of the Spirit that is at work when he speaks. That is, a spokesman for God cannot substitute his own thoughts and opinions for the “very words of God.” He must faithfully deliver the “living words” he has received from God (see Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:11). When he faithfully administers God’s grace in preaching or teaching the Word, he experiences a miracle taking place: God is speaking through him.

11b. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

  • Serving

Here is the second example. Peter encourages the believer to put his God-given talents to work. The clause if anyone serves denotes the activities of the deacons (see the requisites listed in 1 Tim. 3:8–13). But it includes any Christian who works in the context of the church and who willingly and cheerfully serves the Lord.

The worker is completely dependent, however, on “the strength God provides.” In the Greek, the verb provide points to someone who defrays the expenses of something, for example, the training of a choir. The verb has the meaning to supply lavishly. God, then, abundantly supplies the Christian worker with the necessary strength to accomplish the task.

Because God supplies every need, his name receives the praise in all things. Yet all this is done through Jesus Christ. Paul teaches this doctrine when he concludes his doxology in praise of God with these words:

For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen. [Rom. 11:36]

11c. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Praise

This doxology is part of our early Christian heritage. With variations it appears in other New Testament writings (e.g., see Rom. 16:27; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 6:16; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 5:13).

Does the phrase to him relate to Christ or to God? This is not difficult to determine, because its immediate antecedent is “Jesus Christ.” In 5:11, however, where Peter with a slight variation repeats these words, the reference is to God. This explanation is of little help, because in another passage (Rev. 1:6) Peter’s doxology is used verbatim but the words apply to Christ. E. G. Selwyn observes, “It is then the only example in [the] N[ew] T[estament] (if we except Rom. 16:27) of glory being ascribed to Christ and through Christ in the same doxology.”

Whether to attribute glory and power to either God or Jesus Christ is not an insurmountable problem. Both interpretations are acceptable. Furthermore, we see that with this wording Peter acknowledges Jesus Christ as God. And last, the phrase “glory and power for ever and ever” are the words every creature in God’s creation sings “to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Rev. 5:13).

Is Peter’s doxology put at the correct place in this epistle? We would have expected him to conclude his letter with a doxology; instead he places it here. Indeed, some letters in the New Testament end in a doxology (Rom. 16:27; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 25). On the other hand, writers commonly express their feelings by inserting a doxology in the midst of their document (see, for instance, Rom. 9:5; 11:36). The sum of the matter is that Peter adheres to literary practices that were customary in his day.

Practical Considerations in 4:10–11

Persons who have the gift of speaking are always in great demand. Their schedules for speaking engagements in numerous places are constantly filled. Frequently they are unable to meet every request for their services. Often we look at these people with a tinge of envy.

However, we should never permit envy to control our thinking. As we express our love to God and our fellow man, we should instead communicate to God a desire for greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). Because we belong to the body of Christ, every one of us has some kind of gift (vv. 27–30). In faith we should ask God for additional talents. And God who takes delight in granting us gifts dispenses his grace in various forms.

God owns all gifts even while they are in our possession. He does not grant us his gifts for our personal enjoyment; he gives them for the benefit of the body of Christ. Talented possessors—and that includes all of us—must be faithful stewards who, by continually extending the benefit of these gifts to others, function as channels of God’s grace. Moreover, we as talented possessors ought to be humble; we should realize that we possess only some talents, while God has given gifts that we lack to others. All of us in the Christian church, therefore, ought to serve one another so that we can mutually benefit from the variety of riches God has granted his people.[3]


The Intention of Our Duty

so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (4:11b)

As is the goal of everything for believers, the purpose of their fulfilling the obligations of Christian duty in the midst of a hostile world is that God may be glorified. These final clauses of the passage constitute a doxology—an expression of praise and glory to God (cf. Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 3:20–21; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25), which Christians can correctly utter only through Jesus Christ. In all things refers to all matters of Christian responsibility.

Commentators have long discussed whether to whom refers to God or Jesus Christ. It is best to view the designation as a blessed and inspired ambiguity—the glory and dominion belong to both God in Christ and Christ in God, forever and ever (cf. Pss. 104:31; 113:4; 138:5; Hab. 2:14; Matt. 17:2; John 1:14; 10:30; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16–18).

Believers should want to glorify God in all they think, say, and do. The apostle Paul said, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). They will more readily obey Paul’s exhortation if they are motivated by the certainty and nearness of the Second Coming, resulting in personal holiness, mutual love, and spiritual service within the church.

Peter closed this passage with the familiar amen, a term of affirmation that means “so let it be.”

J. C. Ryle’s observations on holy living still apply to all believers living in a world hostile to Christianity:

A holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. (Holiness [reprint; Hertfordshire: Evangelical Press, 1987], 37)[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings 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. 2278). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 170–171). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 245–246). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

May 25 – The True Source of Bread

Give us this day our daily bread.—Matt. 6:11

Jesus’ reference to “bread” not only signifies food but all of our physical needs. It is amazing that the self-sufficient, infinite God of the universe would care about our physical needs—that we have enough food, clothing, shelter—and then pledge to supply those needs. Thus God is the only source of our daily bread.

When everything is going well in life, we tend to think we are managing it all ourselves. Yet even the hardest-working person owes all he or she earns to the Lord’s gracious provision (see Deut. 8:18; Acts 17:24–28). God provided for humanity even before He created Adam and Eve. They were His final creation, and one of the first things He said to them was, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Gen. 1:29). God has fulfilled this statement abundantly and in unlimited ways ever since.

Yet Paul teaches that in the latter days some will “advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:3). But the apostle reminds us “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected” (v. 4).

This part of the Lord’s Prayer is an affirmation—appropriate for the well-fed and those who have little. By it we can thank God that every good thing comes from His gracious hand (James 1:17).

ASK YOURSELF
What are some of the more mundane, ordinary, forgettable things you not only can ask God for today, but can also transform into a prayer of gratitude? How can you make this refresher course in God’s gracious gifts become a more regular part of your conscious thoughts and prayers?[1]

6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. After putting God’s interests first, we are permitted to present our own needs. This petition acknowledges our dependence on God for daily food, both spiritual and physical.[2]


The Fourth Petition

  1. Give us this day our daily bread. What did Jesus mean by “daily”? In Greek literature the word which it translates is very rare; in fact, so rare that it used to be thought that it was coined by the evangelists. In Scripture it occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer (here and in Luke 11:3). Although it has now become clear that the word did not originate with the Gospel writers, there is no unanimity in explaining it. All kinds of guesses have been ventured, among them being “continuous,” “supersubstantial,” “ready at hand,” “for future use,” “for sustenance,” etc. The explanation “sufficient for the next day” has been strongly defended. As I see it, a good argument can be made in favor of: a. “Give us this day our bread for (or: belonging to) the current day (the day in being),” and of b. “Give us this day our needful bread,” that is, “our bread necessary for existence.” The two ideas (a. and b.) combine easily. In any case we must make sure that our interpretation does not run counter to the teaching of Jesus in this very chapter (verses 31–34), the warning against worry about food. See especially verse 34. Personally I see no reason, therefore, to depart from the translation to which many people have become accustomed, namely, “daily.” The meaning then would be, “Give us today the portion that is needed for any one day.”

What has been said so far indicates that by means of this petition Jesus teaches his disciples to be moderate in their desires and requests. This is brought out even more strikingly in the original, where the words “our daily bread” occur at the very head of the petition; hence, “Our daily bread give us this day.” Christ’s disciples must ask for bread, not for luxuries. “Neither poverty nor riches give thou me. Feed me with the bread that is appointed to me, lest, being full, I deny thee and say, ‘Who is Jehovah?’ Or, lest, being poor, I steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8, 9, taken from the prayer of Agur). It is clear, of course, that the term “bread” should not be taken too literally. Whatever is necessary to sustain physical life is meant.

Not only a. moderation is here taught, also b. trust in the heavenly Father, who loves and cares, the childlike confidence expressed so beautifully in Ps. 37:25. Yet, it is not “making provision for the future” (Gen. 41:33–36; Prov. 6:6–8) that is here condemned, but “anxiety about the future,” as if there were no heavenly Father. And well may the conviction of c. total dependence fill the heart, for all men, including even the richest, in order to have, consume, and enjoy food, are dependent upon the condition of soil, water, weather, and health of body. Moreover, in order to eat, men of slender and those of average means need to work, that they may earn their bread. Therefore, all men are dependent upon the general state of the economy, together with all its contributing factors, ecological, social, political, etc., which in the final analysis means that all are dependent upon the sovereign God, who is in control of the universe. Then, too, d. humility is required; hence, “Give us.…” Although the supplicant is making a living in the sweat of his brow and besides has even paid for his groceries, he must still accept what is on the table as a gift from God, a product of grace; for, not only is God the ultimate source of every blessing (James 1:17) but also, by reason of sin man has forfeited all! e. Willingness to work is also presupposed. Else how would one dare to pray for daily sustenance (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10)? To all this add one more quality, namely, f. generosity; hence, not “Give me,” but “Give us … our daily bread.” The needs of believers all over the world are included, for together they constitute one family (Eph. 3:14). And, in the spirit of Gal. 6:10, are not the supplicant’s horizons extended even beyond “the camp of the saints, the beloved city”?

Man has been endowed by the Creator with body and soul (Gen. 2:7). So, from a petition for the fulfilment of the needs of the body the prayer now advances to a request for the satisfaction of the soul’s requirements, that what is spiritual may be both first (see the first three petitions) and last (see the last two, or the last two plus the doxology).[3]


God’s Provision

Give us this day our daily bread. (6:11)

Although it may have been a genuine concern in New Testament times, to many Christians in the western world today, such a request may seem needless and inappropriate. Why should we ask God for what we already have in such abundance? Why, when many of us need to consume less food than we do, ask God to supply our daily bread? What would be a completely understandable request of a Christian in Ethiopia or Cambodia, seems irrelevant on the lips of a well-fed American.

But this part of the Disciples’ Prayer, like every other part, extends beyond the first century to all believers, in every age and in every situation. In this pattern for prayer our Lord gives all the necessary ingredients for praying. We can see five key elements in this request for God’s provision: the substance, the source, the supplication, the seekers, and the schedule.

The Substance

Bread not only represents food but is symbolic of all of our physical needs. John Stott has observed that to Martin Luther, “everything necessary for the preservation of this life is bread, including food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government, and peace” (Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1978], p. 149).

It is marvelous to understand that the God who created the entire universe, who is the God of all space and time and eternity, who is infinitely holy and completely self-sufficient, should care about supplying our physical needs-and should be concerned that we receive enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to rest. God obligates Himself to supply our needs.

This part of the prayer is in the form of a petition, but it is also an affirmation-which is why it is as appropriate for those who are well-fed as for those who have little to eat. Above all it is an affirmation that every good thing we have comes from the gracious hand of God (James 1:17).

The Source

That leads us to the source, who is God. The Father is the one addressed throughout the prayer, the One who is praised and petitioned.

When all our needs are met and all is going well in our lives, we are inclined to think we are carrying our own load. We earn our own money, buy our own food and clothes, pay for our own houses. Yet even the hardest-working person owes all that he earns to God’s provision (see Deut. 8:18). Our life, breath, health, possessions, talents, and opportunities all originate from resources that God has created and made available to man (see Acts 17:24–28). After scientists have made all their observations and calculations, there remains the unexplained element of the design, origin, and operation of the universe. It is unexplained, that is, apart from God, who holds it all together (Heb. 1:2–3).

God provided for man even before He created man. Man was God’s final creation, and after He made and blessed Adam and Eve He said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Gen. 1:29). Since that time God has continued to provide an abundance of food for mankind, in almost unlimited variety.

Yet Paul tells us that “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, … and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:1, 3–5). The Word of God sanctifies it by way of creation, and we sanctify it when we receive it with grateful prayer.

Every physical thing we have comes from God’s provision through the earth. It is therefore the sin of indifference and ingratitude not to daily recognize His gifts in thankful prayer.

Supplication

Supplication is expressed in the word give. That is the heart of the petition, because it recognizes need. Even though God may already have provided it, we ask Him for it in recognition of His past and present provision as well as in trust for His future provision.

The only thing that could make Jesus’ instruction and our petitions valid is the promise of God. We could not expect God to give what He has not promised. We can pray confidently because God has promised abundantly. “Trust in the Lord, and do good,” David counsels us; “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. … Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; … But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:3–4, 10–11).

God does not bind Himself to meet the physical needs of everyone, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37 David is speaking to believers who “trust in the Lord” (v. 3), “delight … in the Lord” (v. 4), “commit [their] way to the Lord” (v. 5), “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (v. 7), “cease from anger,” and “do not fret” (v. 8). He says, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread” (v. 25).

The Seekers

The us of Jesus’ model prayer are those who belong to Him. Speaking to believers, Paul wrote, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11).

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29–30). God irrevocably commits Himself to meet the essential needs of His own.

The greatest cause of famine and its attendant diseases in the world is not poor agricultural practices or poor economic and political policies. Nor is the root problem lack of scientific and technological resources or even overpopulation. Those problems only aggravate the basic problem, which is spiritual. Only some fifteen percent of the arable land in the world is used for agriculture, and that for only half of the year. There is no major area of the world that with proper technology is not capable of supporting its own population and more.

Those parts of the world that have no Christian roots invariably place a low value on human life. The poverty in India, for example, may be laid at the feet of Hinduism, the pagan religion that spawned a host of other religions. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Eerdman’s Handbook to the World’s Religions, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism come from Hinduism. Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, and Taoism do not.

To the Hindu, man is but the incarnation of a soul on its way to moksha, a kind of “final emancipation,” during which trip he goes through countless, perhaps unending, cycles of reincarnation in both animal and human form. He works his way up to higher forms by good deeds and regresses to lower forms by sinning. Poverty, disease, and starvation are therefore seen as divine punishments for which the persons involved must do penance in order to be born into a higher form. To help a person in poverty or sickness is to interfere with his karma and therefore do him spiritual harm. (For a discussion of moksha, or mokṣa, see Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropaedia, VI, p. 972; for a more general discussion, see Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, vol. 8, pp. 888–908. Consult, also, Eerdman’s Handbook to World Religions [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982].)

All animals are considered to be incarnations either of men or deities. Cows are held to be especially sacred because they are incarnated deities-of which Hinduism has some 330 million. Cows not only are not to be eaten but add to the food problem by consuming 20 percent of India’s total food supply. Even rats and mice, which eat 15 percent of the food supply, are not killed because they might be one’s reincarnated relatives.

Just as paganism is the great plague of India, Africa, and many other parts of the world, Christianity has been the blessing of the West. Europe and the United States, though never fully Christian in any biblical sense, have been immeasurably blessed because of the Christian influence on political, social, and economic philosophy and policy. The great concerns for human rights, care for the poor, orphanages, hospitals, prison reform, racial and slave reform, and a host of other concerns did not come from paganism or humanism but from biblical Christianity. On the other hand, the current degraded view of human life reflected in the low view of the family and growing legal and social approval of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are the legacy of humanism and practical atheism.

Without a proper view of God there cannot be a proper view of man. Those who have a right view of God and also a right relationship to Him through Jesus Christ are promised the provision of their heavenly Father. “For this reason,” Jesus says, “I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? … For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 32–33).

God has sometimes provided for His children through miraculous means, but His primary way of provision is through work, for which He has given life, energy, resources, and opportunity. His primary way to care for those who cannot work is through the generosity of those who are able to work. Whether he does so directly or indirectly, God is always the source of our physical well-being. He makes the earth to produce what we need, and He gives us the ability to procure it.

The Schedule

The schedule of God’s provision for His children is daily. The meaning here is simply that of regular, day-by-day supply of our needs. We are to rely on the Lord one day at a time. He may give us vision for work He calls us to do in the future, but His provision for our needs is daily, not weekly, monthly, or yearly. To accept the Lord’s provision for the present day, without concern for our needs or welfare tomorrow, is a testimony of our contentment in His goodness and faithfulness.[4]


11 The last petitions explicitly request things for ourselves. The first is “bread,” a term used to cover all food (cf. Pr 30:8; Mk 3:20; Ac 6:1; 2 Th 3:12; Jas 2:15). Many early fathers thought it inappropriate to talk about physical food here and interpreted “bread” as a reference to the Lord’s Supper or to the Word of God. This depended in part on Jerome’s Latin rendering of epiousios (NIV, “daily,” GK 2157) as superstantialem: Give us today our “supersubstantial” bread—a rendering that may have depended in part on the influence of Marius Victorinus (cf. F. F. Bruce, “The Gospel Text of Marius Victorinus,” in Text and Interpretation [ed. Best and Wilson], 70). There is no linguistic justification for this translation. The bread is real food, and it may further suggest all that we need in the physical realm (Luther).

That does not mean that epiousios is easy to translate. The term appears only here and in Luke’s prayer (Lk 11:3); and the two possible extrabiblical references, which could support “daily,” have had grave doubt cast on them by Bruce M. Metzger (“How Many Times Does ἐπιούσιος Occur Outside the Lord’s Prayer?” ExpTim 69 [1957–58]: 52–54). P. Grelot (“La quatrième demande du ‘Pater’ et son arrièreplan sémitique,” NTS 25 [1978–79]: 299–314) has attempted to support the same translation (“daily”) by reconstructing an Aramaic original, but his article deals inadequately with the Greek text, and other Aramaic reconstructions are possible (e.g., Black, Aramaic Approach, 203–7).

The prayer is for our needs, not our greeds. It is for one day at a time (“today”), reflecting the precarious lifestyle of many first-century workers who were paid one day at a time and for whom a few days’ illness could spell tragedy. Many have suggested a derivation from epi tēn ousan [namely, hēmeran] (“for today”) or hē epiousa hēmera (“for the coming day”), referring in the morning to the same day and at night to the next (for hēmera[n], see GK 2465). This meaning is almost certainly right, but it is better supported by deriving the word from the feminine participle epiousa, already well established with the sense of “immediately following” by the time the NT was written. Whatever the etymological problems, this makes sense of Luke 11:3, where “each day” is part of the text: “Give us each day our bread for the coming day.” Equally it makes sense in Matthew, where “today” displaces “each day”: “Give us today our bread for the coming day.” This may sound redundant to Western readers, but it is a precious and urgent petition to those who live from hand to mouth.

Some derive epiousios (“daily”) from the verb epienai, referring not to the future, still less to the food of the messianic banquet (contra Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 100–102), but to the bread that belongs to it, i.e., that is necessary and sufficient for it (cf. R. Ten Kate, “Geef ons heden ons ‘dagelijks’ brood,” Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 32 [1978]: 125–39; with similar conclusions but by a different route, H. Bourgoin, “ʼΕπιούσιος expliqué par la notion de préfixe vide,” Bib 60 [1979]: 91–96; and for literature, BDAG, 376–77; Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 74–75). This has the considerable merit of meshing well with both “today” and “each day” (Matthew and Luke respectively), and in Matthew’s case it may be loosely rendered “Give us today the food we need.” But the derivation is linguistically artificial (cf. Colin Hemer, “ʼΕπιούσιος, JSNT 22 [1984]: 81–94).

The idea of God “giving” the food in no way diminishes responsibility to work (see comments at vv. 25–34) but presupposes not only that Jesus’ disciples live one day at a time (cf. v. 34) but that all good things, even our ability to work and earn our food, come from God’s hand (cf. Dt 8:18; 1 Co 4:7; Jas 1:17). It is a lesson easily forgotten when wealth multiplies and absolute self-sufficiency is portrayed as a virtue.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 154). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1224). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 332–334). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 387–391). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] 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. 205–206). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 25 – HE’LL HOLD YOU UP

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

—Luke 1:37

I cannot for the life of me see any reason in the world why anyone should be fearful and timid, saying, “I’m afraid I can’t make it; I’m afraid God can’t keep me.” God can keep the stars in their courses and the planets in their orbits; God can keep all His vast display of might everywhere throughout His universe. Surely God can keep you!

It’s like a fly perched on a seat in an airplane, moaning and trembling for fear that the plane can’t carry its weight. That plane weighs several tons and it has several tons of people and baggage on it. That fly is so light that it’s impossible, outside of a laboratory, to even weigh the little guy. And yet we can imagine him sitting there, flapping his little wings and saying, “I’m just afraid this plane won’t hold me up!”

The great God Almighty stretches forth His broad wings and moves upon the wind. God will hold you up. He’ll keep you if you turn yourself over to Him! He’ll hold you when nothing else can; nothing will be able to destroy you. AOGII076

Lord, I’m reminded of the words of Psalm 3:5: “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” I’ll rest calmly in Your power today. Amen. [1]


  1. For with God nothing is ever impossible. He is able to do whatever he wishes to do (Gen. 18:14; Ps. 115:3; Jer. 32:17; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27; Eph. 1:19; 3:20). Therefore he was able to give a child to Zechariah and Elizabeth though both had long given up hope of ever having one. And therefore he was also able to fulfil his promise to Mary, without any help from Joseph.[2]

God’s Sovereignty

For nothing will be impossible with God. (1:37)

It is one thing to say something is going to happen, but quite another to make it happen. What Mary heard was, she realized, humanly impossible. Therefore, Gabriel reminded her that because of God’s unlimited power, nothing will be impossible with Him. The proof Gabriel offered, as noted above, was Elizabeth’s conception of John.

But there was another older couple that God miraculously allowed to conceive a child. Mary would have been familiar with the Old Testament account of Isaac’s birth to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1–15). Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah were well beyond their childbearing years. Genesis 18:12–14 is the key passage of that account:

Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Gabriel’s emphatic declaration that nothing is impossible for God answered God’s rhetorical question in verse 14. If nothing is too hard for God’s omnipotence, then everything is possible with Him (Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:35). God, whose power knows no limits (Deut. 3:24; Job 9:4; Ps. 89:13), and who is not bound by the laws of nature that He created, can accomplish anything consistent with His holy nature and purposes. Gabriel’s reminder of what God had done in the past reassured Mary of His power to keep His word to her.[3]


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

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 89–90). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2009). Luke 1–5 (pp. 59–60). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

May 25 – Paul: Joy in Spite of Trouble

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

Philippians 4:4

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The apostle Paul was a model believer who did not let his troubles steal His joy in the Lord.

According to today’s verse, believers should never let a negative outlook replace our joy, no matter how bad life seems to be. The apostle Paul set an example that was far different. He wrote to the Philippians that in spite of being imprisoned in Rome, he was still rejoicing. Even though Paul was restricted under trying and harsh conditions, he was glad because the gospel message was being declared, even among the prison guards. Paul was not so concerned about his own hardships but that others hear the saving good news of Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 9:16).

Paul saw himself as a prisoner for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Therefore, he never gave in to any temptation to indulge in self–pity but rather focused on his duty of telling others about his Lord and Savior. Some of Paul’s other letters also mention his imprisonment (see Eph. 3:1; Col. 4:10) but always positively, because the apostle never forgot that being a prisoner was merely part of the role he was called to as an ambassador for God’s kingdom.

Paul’s Roman imprisonment resulted in his joyful attitude extending out in evangelism: “My imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well–known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (Phil. 1:13). However, Paul’s ultimate impact on the guards and others was not just from his outward expressions of happiness. Rather, those who heard him were changed because they saw an attitude of joy and a message of truth deeply fixed in a man experiencing great trials and afflictions.

What a profound example Paul is for you and me today. For instance, we can make difficult witnessing opportunities easier by exhibiting Christlikeness and godly joy no matter how events are pressing us down. Such attitudes, so different from what people naturally expect, will give us many chances to testify of God’s grace (see 1 Peter 3:15).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you look above and beyond your problems and focus on what He has done for you.

For Further Study: A very striking example of Paul’s rejoicing in the midst of suffering happened at the Philippian dungeon. Read Acts 16:22–34. What did he and Silas do to make the best of that trial?[1]


4:4 Turning now to the entire church, Paul repeats the favorite exhortation. The secret of his exhortation is found in the words in the Lord. No matter how dark the circumstances of life may be, it is always possible for the Christian to rejoice in the Lord.

Jowett shares his experience regarding Christian joy:

Christian joy is a mood independent of our immediate circumstances. If it were dependent on our surroundings, then, indeed, it would be as uncertain as an unprotected candle burning on a gusty night. One moment the candle burns clear and steady, the next moment the blaze leaps to the very edge of the wick, and affords little or no light. But Christian joy has no relationship to the transient setting of the life, and therefore it is not the victim of the passing day. At one time my conditions arrange themselves like a sunny day in June; a little later they rearrange themselves like a gloomy day in November. One day I am at the wedding; the next day I stand by an open grave. One day, in my ministry, I win ten converts for the Lord; and then, for a long stretch of days, I never win one. Yes, the days are as changeable as the weather, and yet the Christian joy can be persistent. Where lies the secret of its glorious persistency?

Here is the secret. “Lo! I am with you all the days.” In all the changing days, “He changeth not, neither is weary.” He is no fairweather Companion, leaving me when the year grows dark and cold. He does not choose my days of prosperous festival, though not to be found in my days of impoverishment and defeat. He does not show Himself only when I wear a garland, and hide Himself when I wear a crown of thorns. He is with me “all the days”—the prosperous days and the days of adversity; days when the funeral bell is tolling, and days when the wedding bell is ringing. “All the days.” The day of life—the day of death—the day of judgment.[2]


  1. Once again, as so often before, the apostle stresses the duty of rejoicing. He says, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. The exhortation is repeated, probably because on the surface it seems so unreasonable to rejoice in obedience to a command, and perhaps even more unreasonable to rejoice always, under all circumstances no matter how trying. Can one truly rejoice when the memory of past sins vexes the soul, when dear ones are suffering, when one is being persecuted, facing possible death? But there is Paul, who does, indeed, remember his past sins (Phil. 3:6; cf. Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9), whose friends are really suffering (Phil. 1:29, 30), who is even now a prisoner facing possible death; yet, who rejoices and tells others to do likewise! It is evident from this that circumstances alone do not determine the condition of heart and mind. A Christian can be joyful within when without all is dark and dreary. He rejoices in the Lord, that is, because of his oneness with Christ, the fruit of whose Spirit is joy (Gal. 5:22). This is reasonable, for in and through Christ all things—also those that seem most unfavorable—work together for good (Rom. 8:28).

It was not unreasonable for Paul to exhort the Philippians to rejoice, for the disposition of joy can be and should be cultivated. This can be done, as the apostle indicates in the context (see verse 8), by meditating on the proper subjects, that is, by taking account of the things that should stand out in our consciousness. For Paul such reasons for joy, the joy unspeakable and full of glory, were the following: that he was a saved individual whose purpose was in his entire person to magnify Christ (1:19, 20); that this Savior, in whose cross, crown, and coming again he glories (2:5–11; 3:20, 21; 4:5), was able and willing to supply his every need (4:11–13, 19, 20); that others, too, were being saved (1:6; 2:17, 18), the apostle himself being used by God for this glorious purpose; that he had many friends and helpers in the gospel-cause, who together formed a glorious fellowship in the Lord (1:5; 2:19–30; 4:1, 10); that God was causing all things, even bonds, to work together for good (1:12–18; cf. Rom. 8:28), so that even death is gain when life is Christ (1:21, 23); and that at all times he has freedom of access to the throne of grace (4:6). Let the Philippians meditate on these things and rejoice, yes rejoice always.[3]


Maintaining a Spirit of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (4:4)

This verse expresses the theme of the book of Philippians, that believers are to rejoice in the Lord always (cf. 3:1). Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability that Paul repeats his command for emphasis: again I will say, rejoice! This repetition presupposes the reality that it was not easy to be joyful. The Philippians needed to rise above their circumstances.

Some, wrongly identifying joy as a purely human emotion, find Paul’s twice-repeated command to rejoice puzzling. How, they ask, can people be commanded to produce an emotion? But joy is not a feeling; it is the deep-down confidence that God is in control of everything for the believer’s good and His own glory, and thus all is well no matter what the circumstances. Chairete (rejoice) is a present imperative, calling believers to the continual, habitual practice of rejoicing. Neither Paul’s imprisonment nor the Philippians’ trials should eclipse their joy.

It is true that believers often cannot find reason to rejoice in their specific circumstances. Certainly the general wickedness, sorrow, misery, and death in the world evoke no joy. Nor are people a reliable source of joy, since they can change, hurt, and disappoint. The only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy is God. That is why Paul commands believers to rejoice in the Lord. The phrase in the Lord introduces an important principle: Spiritual stability is directly related to how a person thinks about God. No one has stated that truth more clearly than A. W. Tozer. In his classic book on the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer wrote,

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. (Reprint; New York: Harper & Row, 1975, 9)

Knowledge of God is the key to rejoicing. Those who know the great truths about God find it easy to rejoice; those with little knowledge of Him find it difficult to rejoice. God gave the Psalms to Israel in poetic form so they could be easily memorized and set to music. The first three verses of the book of Psalms promise blessings to those who meditate on Scripture:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Ps. 1:1–3)

It is from that knowledge of God and repeated recitation and singing of His nature and attributes that believers’ joy flows. So deep was the apostles’ knowledge of God’s character and purposes that even suffering for Jesus Christ was a cause of joy: “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro “rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians” (Ex. 18:9; cf. Deut. 26:11). After the dedication of the temple, Solomon “sent the people to their tents, rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness that the Lord had shown to David and to Solomon and to His people Israel” (2 Chron. 7:10).

Believers rejoice in the contemplation of God’s redemption. In 1 Samuel 2:1, “Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.’ ” In Psalm 13:5 David confidently asserted, “I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (cf. Pss. 21:1; 35:9; 40:16; Isa. 61:10; Hab. 3:18). In Psalm 71:23 the psalmist exulted, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.”

Another reason for believers to rejoice is that God has promised to supply all their needs. Paul reminded the Philippians, “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). In the Old Testament counterpart to that promise, the psalmist wrote, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ made God’s promise to provide for believers’ needs unmistakably clear:

Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:28–33)

Paul rejoiced because of the privilege of serving God. To Timothy he wrote, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service” (1 Tim. 1:12). He also rejoiced when God’s truth was proclaimed (Phil. 1:18). Paul’s declaration to the Philippians earlier in this epistle, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21), reveals that even the prospect of death could not quench his joy. The confidence “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39) produces both deep-seated joy and spiritual stability.[4]


4 The conclusion to the letter begins in 4:4. Paul’s letter endings vary widely and lack any formal pattern, but he usually concludes with a battery of ethical imperatives. Here he begins by repeating the call to “rejoice in the Lord.” Since joy is commanded, it is not a feeling like happiness. It is a mental attitude, a life stance. Whereas happiness depends on what happens, joy does not. Joy derives from a conviction that, despite present circumstances, God is in control and will save those who belong to Christ. Joy derives from the Philippians’ union with Christ, the promise of the resurrection, and their partnership with one another.[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. 1978). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 192–193). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 273–276). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 252). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 25 – Soldiers in a Holy War

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.

Ephesians 6:14

Our society is not conducive for people becoming like Christ. We live in what has been termed a sensate culture because most people are more concerned with pleasant emotions than with productive efforts—they’re more into comfort than accomplishment. Such a perspective has affected even the church, which suffers from an appalling apathy. We have forgotten that we are soldiers in a holy war.

As today’s verse indicates, the first thing a soldier put on before he went into battle was a belt around his waist. He would tie it as tight as he could and pull the corners of his tunic up through the belt so that he could have complete freedom of movement in hand–to–hand combat. The belt of truthfulness is not a piece of armor, for it cannot protect us directly. But it does indicate that we are to be serious about the battle and devoted to achieving victory.[1]


6:14 The first piece of armor mentioned is the belt of truth. Certainly we must be faithful in holding the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply it to our daily lives. As we test everything by the truth, we find strength and protection in the combat.

The second piece is the breastplate of righteousness. Every believer is clothed with the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), but he must also manifest integrity and uprightness in his personal life. Someone has said, “When a man is clothed in practical righteousness, he is impregnable. Words are no defense against accusation, but a good life is.” If our conscience is void of offense toward God and man, the devil has nothing to shoot at. David put on the breastplate of righteousness in Psalm 7:3–5. The Lord Jesus wore it at all times (Isa. 59:17).[2]


The Girdle of Truth

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, (6:14a)

The Roman soldier always wore a tunic, an outer garment that served as his primary clothing. It was usually made of a large, square piece of material with holes cut out for the head and arms. Ordinarily it draped loosely over most of the soldier’s body. Since the greatest part of ancient combat was hand–to–hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger. Before a battle it was therefore carefully cinched up and tucked into the heavy leather belt that girded the soldier’s loins.

The ordinary citizen of the Near East had a similar problem with his robe. When he was in a hurry or had heavy work to do, he either took the robe off or tucked it around his waist. As God prepared the children of Israel to eat the Passover meal before they left Egypt, He instructed Moses to tell them, “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11). Concerning His second coming, Jesus tells us to “be dressed in readiness” (Luke 12:35), which is literally, “have your loins girded.” Peter used the same expression when he said, “Therefore, gird your minds [lit., “gird up the loins of your minds”] for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13). Girding the loins was a mark of preparedness, and the soldier who was serious about fighting was sure to secure his tunic with his belt.

The belt that girded it all securely together and demonstrates the believer’s readiness for war is truth. Alētheia (truth) basically refers to the content of that which is true. The content of God’s truth is absolutely essential for the believer in his battle against the schemes of Satan. Without knowledge of biblical teaching, he is, as the apostle has already pointed out, subject to being “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (4:14). In his first letter to Timothy, Paul warns that “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). The “doctrines of demons” taught by cults and false religions have their origin in the “deceitful spirits” that in Ephesians Paul calls “rulers, … powers, … world forces of this darkness, … [and] spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (6:12). These false schemes of Satan can be successfully encountered only with the truth of the Word of God.

But alētheia (truth) can also refer to the attitude of truthfulness. It represents not only the accuracy of specific truths but the quality of truthfulness. That seems to be the primary meaning Paul has in mind here. The Christian is to gird himself in an attitude of total truthfulness. To be girded … with truth therefore shows an attitude of readiness and of genuine commitment. It is the mark of the sincere believer who forsakes hypocrisy and sham. Every encumbrance that might hinder his work for the Lord is gathered and tucked into his belt of truthfulness so that it will be out the way. Just as the serious runner takes off every unnecessary piece of clothing before the race (Heb. 12:1), the serious soldier tucks in every loose piece of clothing before the battle.

How much more important is the Christian’s preparedness as he faces the forces of Satan. “No soldier in active service,” Paul says, “entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4). It is sad that so many Christians are content to let the “tunics” of their daily cares and concerns flap in the breeze around them—continually interfering with their faithfulness to the Lord and giving the devil every opportunity to entangle and defeat them with their own immature habits and interests.

I believe that being girded … with truth primarily has to do with the self–discipline of total commitment. It is the committed Christian, just as it is the committed soldier and the committed athlete, who is prepared. Winning in war and in sports is often said to be the direct result of desire that leads to careful preparation and maximum effort. It is the army or the team who wants most to win who is most likely to do so—even against great odds.

Some years ago I was told of a young Jewish man from the United States who decided to go to Israel and live. After working there for two years he was required either to serve in the army for a given period of time or to return home. He decided to join the army. His father was a good friend of an Israeli general, who at first was afraid the young man would use that friendship to secure an easy, safe assignment. Instead, he went to the general and said, “My present duty is too easy. I want to be in the finest, most strategic, diligent, and difficult regiment in the Israeli army.” Commenting on that spirit of dedication, the general said, “People think Israelis are so successful at war because we are a super people or that we have super intellect or super strength. But our success is not built on any of those things; it is built on commitment, unreserved and sacrificial commitment.”

If athletes so dedicate and discipline themselves in order to possibly win a race and receive “a perishable wreath” from the world, how much more should believers in Jesus Christ dedicate and discipline themselves to absolutely win in their struggle against Satan and receive an “imperishable” wreath from God (1 Cor. 9:25)?

Being girded … with truth is being renewed in the mind, in order to “prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). When the mind is renewed in commitment to God’s truth, there is empowerment for the Christian soldier to become “a living and holy sacrifice” that please God and is that believer’s “spiritual service of worship” (v. 1). In many ways it is more difficult and more demanding to be a living sacrifice than a dying one. To be burned at the stake for one’s faith would be painful, but it would soon be over. To live a lifetime of faithful obedience can also be painful at times, and its demands go on and on. It requires staying power that only continual and total commitment to the Lord can provide. It demands that love “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that [we] may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11). Love, knowledge, and understanding of God all need to grow in us. And when those grow, so does our commitment to the Lord for excellence in all things—the ultimate goal of which is “the glory and praise of God.”

To be content with mediocrity, lethargy, indifference, and half–heartedness is to fail to be armored with the belt of God’s truth and to leave oneself exposed to Satan’s schemes.

John Monsell’s hymn focuses on the virtue of true commitment:

Fight the good fight with all thy might;

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right.

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;

Life with its way before thee lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;

His boundless mercy will provide;

Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove

Christ is its life, and Christ its love.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 162). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1952). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 348–351). Chicago: Moody Press.