Daily Archives: December 4, 2017

December 4: Christ’s Equality with God

“[Christ] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Philippians 2:6

✧✧✧

Christ is equal with God but willingly yielded His divine privileges for our sake.

At the time Christ lived, even His worst enemies, the apostate religious leaders, knew what Jesus claimed about Himself. John 5:18 says, “The Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” In Philippians 2:6 Paul affirms Christ’s claim of equality with God. The Greek word translated “equality” (isos) describes things that are exactly equal in size, quantity, quality, character, and number. Isomorph (equal form), isometric (equal measures), and isosceles triangle (a triangle with two sides of equal measure) are all English terms that describe equality. Christ is equal to God, and He exists in the form of God. A literal English rendering of the Greek text is: “He did not regard the being equal with God”—a tremendous affirmation of the deity of Christ.

The first step in the humiliation of Christ was that He did not hold on to equality with God. Though He had all the rights, privileges, and honors of Godhood, Christ didn’t grasp them. The word translated “grasp” originally meant “robbery” or “a thing seized by robbery.” It eventually came to mean anything clutched, embraced, held tightly, clung to, or prized. Paul meant that though He was always and forever God, Christ refused to cling to His favored position with all its rights and honors. He was willing to give them up for a season.

The Incarnation expresses the humility and unselfish nature of the Second Person of the Trinity. Christ looked down on wretched sinners who hated Him and willingly yielded His privileges to give Himself for their sake. Let us follow His example by being humble and living unselfishly for others.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for His example of humility and unselfishness.

For Further Study: Read John 10:38; 14:9. What did Christ say about His relationship with the Father? ✧ In John 20:28 how did Thomas address Christ?[1][1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 4: PICK UP THE HARP

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

—1 Chronicles 16:29

Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp. I put more strings on your instrument and I have given you a wider range than I have given to any other creature. You can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can.” …

The purpose of God in sending His Son to die and rise and live and be at the right hand of God the Father was that He might restore to us the missing jewel, the jewel of worship; that we might come back and learn to do again that which we were created to do in the first place—worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, to spend our time in awesome wonder and adoration of God, feeling and expressing it, and letting it get into our labors and doing nothing except as an act of worship to Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ. I say that the greatest tragedy in the world today is that God has made man in His image and made him to worship Him, made him to play the harp of worship before the face of God day and night, but he has failed God and dropped the harp. It lies voiceless at his feet. WMJ007-008

Help me, Father, to pick up the harp and bring You the glory due to Your name. I’ve come to know You in a deeper way; may I respond with heartfelt worship. Amen.[1][1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 4, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

The U.S. and South Korea on Monday began a five-day joint air exercise on the Korean peninsula involving 230 aircraft and 12,000 American troops, in what North Korea has dubbed the largest-ever joint aerial drill.

Venezuela’s currency is in free fall. Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are going precisely the other direction. And there, President Nicolas Maduro sees a way out of his country’s economic ills. Maduro announced the nation would create its own “petrocurrency,” backed by reserves in oil, gas, gold and diamonds. It will enable Venezuela “to advance in monetary sovereignty, carry out its financial transactions to overcome the financial blockade.”

In a dispute that pits free speech and religious rights against equality, the justices on Tuesday will consider the case of a Colorado baker who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings.

Rahul Gandhi is set to take the reins of India’s opposition Congress party from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who led the organization for two decades. He’s he sixth person from Nehru-Gandhi family to head the party.

Elon Musk fully intends to put a red sports car made by a company that he runs into an enormous rocket ship made by another company that he runs and fire both into Mars orbit. The car, as it hurtles into space, will be playing a song by David Bowie on repeat.

Bitcoin’s extraordinary price surge means its market capitalization now exceeds the annual output of whole economies, and the estimated worth of some of the world’s top billionaires.

Facebook Inc., Google’s YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Twitter Inc. have added the digital signatures of 40,000 terrorist videos and images to a shared database as they seek to keep extremist content off their platforms.

AP Top Stories

Students at a Florida elementary school have sent over 600 backpacks to recently reopened schools all around Puerto Rico, each with a note to a child they have never met.

The rebel alliance controlling Yemen’s capital appeared to crumble Saturday as a strongman opposed to the internationally recognized government reached out to a Saudi-led coalition fighting the insurgents.

An Anglican minister is feeling the heat after a blog post in which he urged congregants to “pray in the privacy of their hearts” for Prince George to be gay went viral.

Russia’s justice ministry will start registering some foreign media as “foreign agents” this week, the RIA news agency cited a source in the Russian upper house of parliament as saying on Monday.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Pakistan Monday as Washington pressures its wayward ally to eliminate militant safe havens; days after Pakistani authorities freed an alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Israel is building a giant drone comparable to America’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, according to Israeli media. The drone will be an upgrade of Israel’s Eitan long-range reconnaissance UAV, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Tens of thousands of people have protested in Tel Aviv against what they say is corruption within the government and the slow pace of investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Pentagon is preparing to spend millions of dollars to fix up a Cold War-era air base in Iceland as Washington rushes to keep an eye on a new generation of stealthy Russian submarines slipping into the North Atlantic.

The death toll from violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest monthly level in five years following the Islamic State group’s military collapse, the United Nations said Monday.

The F-35 is almost ready to attack from aircraft carriers. Being engineered for a carrier, the F-35C’s 51-foot wingspan is larger than the Air Force’s F-35A and Marine Corps’ F-35B short take-off-and-landing variants. The fighter is configured to carry 19,000 pounds of fuel and 18,000 pounds of weapons. It can fire two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The F-35C can reach speeds up to Mach 1.6 and travel more than 1,200 nautical miles.

The commander of the Taliban’s “special forces” branch, known as the “Red Unit,” was killed last week in Helmand province by Afghan forces, according to Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency.

BBC

Crew on board a Cathay Pacific plane flying over Japan reported a suspected sighting of last week’s North Korean missile test, the airline said. The company confirmed to the BBC that crew witnessed “what is suspected to be the re-entry” of the missile into the earth’s atmosphere.

Chinese authorities have shut down an institute that was teaching women to be obedient and subordinate to men. The education bureau said the institute, which claimed it taught “traditional virtues”, had violated socialist core values. An online video showed lecturers speaking out against gender equality, while other advice to women included not fighting back when being beaten. China has seen a rise in similar institutes in recent years.

Police investigating a bomb found at a Christmas market in Germany on Friday say it was not terrorism but an attempt to blackmail the shipping company, DHL. The nail bomb was sent in a parcel to a pharmacy near a market in Potsdam.

WND

Walmart is selling “Antifa” clothing that “will [allow you to] express yourself inside the opposition to the ideology, organizations, governments and people from the far right (fascism).”

The Advanced Plant Technologies program aims to modify vegetation to detect electromagnetic signals, pathogens, radiation and chemicals in the environment and report the data to military intelligence.


The Briefing — Monday, December 4, 2017

1) Ireland’s turn to the left and the moral dimension of secularization

New York Times (Liam Stack) –
How Ireland Moved to the Left: ‘The Demise of the Church’

2) Australian state turns to euthanasia amid the shifting ground of medical authority

New York Times (Adam Baidawi) –
Euthanasia Law Passes in Australia for First Time

3) As millennials look to horoscopes, belief vacuum at modern embrace of occult is revealed

MarketWatch (Kari Paul) –
Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology

New York Times (Alexandra Levine) –
Leaning on the Stars to Make Sense of the World


News – 12/4/2017

Rare Triad of Supermoons Sends Super Strong Warning to ‘Haters of Israel’
A series of three supermoons began on Sunday and will end with a super Blue Blood Moon on January 31, giving what one rabbi explained is a triple-dose of divine judgement to “the haters of Israel” as the secular New Year comes in.

‘Trump administration has something major planned this week’
Will President Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promise of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as recent reports citing unnamed administration officials claim? Or will the president settle with a symbolic move of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as other senior sources have claimed?

New documents reveal FBI’s Clinton cover-up
What we haven’t known, until now, is that a frantic scramble erupted in the halls of the FBI to cover up this meeting. In fact, the FBI turned its sharp light not on the scandalous meeting between the attorney general and Bill Clinton – but rather on one of the whistleblowers who got the word out. No wonder the FBI didn’t turn these documents over until we caught it red-handed, hiding and lying about them.

After Steinle verdict, rep unveils bill to imprison officials who shelter illegal immigrants
A Republican congressman plans to introduce a bill Monday that would threaten huge fines and prison time for elected officials accused of sheltering illegal immigrant criminals from deportation, in the wake of the not-guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle murder trial. Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita’s bill is one of the most aggressive pieces of legislation to date aimed at sanctuary city policies, going beyond the Justice Department’s threat to cut off grants to those jurisdictions.

What to Know About Scarlet Fever, the Antique Disease That’s on the Upswing
This disease has never gone away, but now it’s on the upswing in Asia and the United Kingdom. Cases of scarlet fever tripled in England in 2014 and are now at a 50-year high, according to research published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. This surge follows a severe spike in scarlet fever cases in South Korea, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. Theresa Lamagni, lead author of the study, told STAT that her team quantified the trend but has no idea of the cause.

World War 3: US commences ‘REALISTIC COMBAT EXERCISE’ on Kim Jong-un’s doorstep
The five-day military exercise is taking place between US and South Korean forces as World War 3 tensions are upped another gear. South Korea’s defence ministry said: “It’s aimed at enhancing the all-weather, day and night combined air power operation capabilities of South Korea and the US.” The US Seventh Air Force added: “The realistic air combat exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between US and Republic of Korea forces, and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations.”

The Big One? Magnitude 6 earthquake strikes as damage feared in coastal city
The quake struck 19km north east of Bahia de Caraquez on the west coast of Ecuador at 11.19UTC. Tremors came at a depth of 24.73km, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). It is not known yet if there has been any major damage from the quake.

Golan ISIS threat looms large over Israel and Syrian rebels
In November 2016, Israel and an Islamic State affiliate that controls territory on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights engaged in a brief battle. After coming under small arms and mortar fire, Israel responded with an air strike that killed four members of the ISIS group, which goes by the local name of the “Army of Khalid bin al-Walid” (JKW).

North Korea missile ‘seen by Cathay Pacific airline crew’
Crew on board a Cathay Pacific plane flying over Japan reported a suspected sighting of last week’s North Korean missile test, the airline said. The company confirmed to the BBC that crew witnessed “what is suspected to be the re-entry” of the missile into the earth’s atmosphere. It added that as things stand no flight routes were being modified.

Venezuela unveils virtual currency amid economic crisis
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced the creation of a new virtual currency in a bid to ease the country’s economic crisis. He said the Petro would be backed by Venezuela’s oil, gas, gold and diamond wealth. Opposition MPs, however, poured scorn on the plan.

US families urged to EVACUATE military bases near Seoul amid fears North Korea WAR ‘close’
FAMILIES of US military should leave South Korea because war between America and Pyongyang is “getting close”, according to a senior US Senator and ex-Air Force Colonel. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has warned that the rising tensions between the the US and Kim Jong-un’s corrupt regime means preparations for war need to be taken. The member of the Senate Armed Services Committee warned the US was “running out of time” to prepare itself for war…

Jordan, Egypt warn US against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
The foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt, the only Arab states to sign a peace treaty with Israel, warned against the reported decision by the Trump administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted that he had spoken to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the dangerous consequences of such a move.

Report: Saudi peace plan favors Israel
A November meeting between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman included a discussion of a peace plan largely favoring Israel, The New York Times reported. According to the Times’ report, bin Salman’s plan offers the PA noncontiguous parts of Judea and Samaria, with limited sovereignty and without eastern Jerusalem as its capital city. Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, for the most part, would not be destroyed or moved.

Report: Trump Mulls Plan to Expand Gaza Into Palestinian State in Sinai
President Donald Trump is mulling a proposal to create a Palestinian state in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that would significantly expand the territory of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Saturday. The Egyptian report came a day before Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was set to address the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum regarding renewed U.S.-led peace efforts in the region, and amid reports that Trump may recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week.

Cyclone Ockhi Live Updates: Death toll in rain-related incidents in Kerala rise to 19, over 600 fishermen rescued
Cyclone Ockhi, the first tropical storm of the season, over the districts in South Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep has claimed as many as 16 lives, as per various media reports. It has also dismantled the daily life completely. The navy and the coast guards have launched full-fledged rescue operations saving more than 220 lives so far. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialled Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami late Friday night and inquired about the damage caused by Cyclone Ockhi…

After erroneous Flynn report, ABC News suspends Brian Ross
ABC News on Saturday suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for his erroneous report on Michael Flynn, which it called a “serious error.”

Fed’s William Dudley: Central Bank ‘Starting to Think About’ Its Own Digital Currency
The Federal Reserve is in early stages of considering “what it would mean” to offer digital currencies sometime in the future and whether it may be necessary as an alternative to cash, a top U.S. central banker said on Wednesday.

Hedge Fund CIO: “You Can No Longer Understand America Unless You Check Breitbart And Infowars Daily”
“Every single day there’s something, usually lots of things, it’s constant entertainment.’ I admitted to checking Breitbart daily. InfoWars too. You can no longer understand America unless you do. ”

Matt Drudge Slams Barack Obama in Very Rare Tweet
…Matt Drudge tweeted out an Independent article title, ‘Obama to meet world leaders in India and China weeks after Trump’s visit’ with a caption, “Is citizen Obama violating the “Logan act” when he lobbies foreign governments and world leaders against America’s current foreign policy?” Drudge tweeted.

Abbas on diplomatic blitz to prevent US embassy move to Jerusalem
PA chief calls leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Kuwait and urges them to intervene with Trump

Klein: Six Reasons Jared Kushner is Dangerously Delusional on the Middle East
Earlier today, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, made a rare public appearance to discuss his efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian deal and forge a wider Middle East peace.

Bioethicist: Sex with Dead OK
Opponents of human exceptionalism work overtime to normalize or OK behavior long deemed inherently wrong.   The latest example appears in Big Think, where a South African bioethicist named Tauriq Moosa argues that copulating with the dead should not be considered immoral.

DOJ And FBI Accused Of ‘Hiding’ Info On Anti-Trump FBI Investigator
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is threatening to hold the Justice Department and FBI in contempt of Congress for withholding details about why a top FBI investigator was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign.

Obama Campaign Operative Met With Russian Officials In Moscow Prior To 2008 Election
Ambassador Michael McFaul with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at a hearing in Washington DC after her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in New York City. Deep State operatives and the liberal media have tried desperately to link the Trump campaign to Russia. Yet it was Obama campaign officials who were meeting with the Russians — In Moscow — during the 2008 election.

Honolulu Police Order Citizens With Medical Condition To Turn In Their Guns – Tea Party News
Residents of Hawaii’s largest city who take medical marijuana will be forced to turn in their firearms within 30 days, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. In a letter which was sent to 30 medical marijuana card holders on the island of Oahu this week, authorities informed them that “you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms.”

Mattress startup Casper sued for “wiretapping” website visitors
A federal lawsuit earlier filed this week accuses Casper, the direct-to-consumer mattress startup, and a software company named NaviStone of illegally collecting information from visitors to the Casper website in an attempt to learn their identities.

WW3 RED ALERT: Iranian-Backed Yemen Rebel’s Ballistic Missile Hits Target In Saudi Arabia
According to Houthi-run Al-Masira tv, Yemen’s rebel ballistic missile has hit a military target in Saudi Arabia.

Rothschild: Donald Trump is threatening to destroy the New World Order
The Rothschilds have used their globalist media mouthpiece to declare that Donald Trump is threatening to destroy the New World Order, for good.Globalism propaganda tool and Rothschild family-owned publication, The Economist has branded the US President a “present danger” to the “New World Order,” and stated that the “internationalists” that formed it are “spinning in their graves.

“We’re Getting Close To Military Conflict”: Sen. Graham Urges Evacuation Of Americans From South Korea
Speaking on CBS News’ “Face the Nation”, Sen. Graham said that “we’re getting close to a military conflict because North Korea’s marching toward marrying up the technology of an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on top that cannot only get to America but deliver the weapon. We’re running out of time.”

Mid-Day Snapshot

Dec. 4, 2017

Tax Reform: Political (Pyrrhic) Victory?

Republicans are hoping that voters view far-from-perfect tax reform as better than the status quo.

Today’s Cartoon

The Foundation

“If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.” —Alexander Hamilton (1787)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: December 4

  • Stock futures jump after Senate approves tax bill (Read More)
  • Tax Bill Marked by Blinding Speed (Read More)
  • Corporate Winners and Losers in the GOP Tax Bill (Read More)
  • Flynn’s Guilty Plea Sparks Clashing Interpretations (Read More)
  • Irish border deal reported settled as May meets Juncker (Read More)
  • Houthi radio says ex-president Saleh killed in Yemen fighting, no confirmation (Read More)
  • Oil falls after U.S. drilling picks up (Read More)
  • FBI Agent Removed From Russia Probe Had Key Role in Clinton Email Investigation (Read More)
  • As Brokers Line Up to Offer Bitcoin Futures, Others Are Quiet (Read More)
  • Goldman Sachs tried to cut its debt exposure to Altice (Read More)
  • HNA’s Units Are on a Borrowing Spree, Swallowing High Rates (Read More)
  • Trump backs Alabama Republican Senate candidate Moore (Read More)
  • BlackRock and Vanguard’s $20 Trillion Future Is Closer Than You Think (Read More)
  • Billy Bush: Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That (Read More)
  • Elon Musk Isn’t Joking About Sending a Tesla to Mars (Read More)
  • Overseas Buying Gives U.S. Stocks New Lift (Read More)
  • Dialog shares tumble on warning Apple could build its own chips (Read More)
  • CVS-Aetna Deal May Hinge on Antitrust Approach Under Trump (Read More)
  • CVS-Aetna deal to change how big employers buy health benefits (Read More)
  • Mortgage fraud frenzy spells peril for China’s banks (Read More)
  • Will Fed Catch Digital-Currency Fever? (Read More)
  • Xiaomi Seeks Valuation of at Least $50 Billion in IPO (Read More)

Headlines – 12/4/2017

Kushner: Israeli-Palestinian peace needed for wider Middle East stability

Jared Kushner at Saban Forum: Israel needs peace with Palestinians before it can form alliance with Arab states

Klein: Six Reasons Jared Kushner is Dangerously Delusional on the Middle East

Is Trump eyeing a plan to expand a Palestinian state into Sinai?

Trump Mulling Tripling the Size of Gaza to Create Palestinian State in Sinai

Talk of a Peace Plan That Snubs Palestinians Roils Middle East

Arab League warns Trump against recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt warn US of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Jordan begins diplomatic offensive ahead of Trump move on Jerusalem

Grand Mufti of “Palestine”, says recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an attack on Muslims

Top PLO official: Trump will sow an ethnic conflict if he declares Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital

Saudi Arabia proposes Abu Dis instead of J’lem as Palestinian capital

Report: Saudi Arabia to abandon PA in favor of Israel

Saudis move toward Netanyahu’s vision on the Palestinians

Palestinian minister calls for emergency meeting of Arab League over Jerusalem

Abbas warns world leaders over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem

Abbas on diplomatic blitz to prevent US embassy move to Jerusalem

Report: US Quietly Taking Major Steps Toward Moving Israeli Embassy

US national security adviser ‘not sure’ if Trump will move embassy

IDF declares the area around Gaza a closed military zone

Rocket alert siren blares in Golan

Mortar shell fired from Syria toward Israeli Golan Heights

Attack on Iranian base in Syria emphasizes red lines inflexible

A new western front against Israel will open if Iran comes into Syria

Netanyahu urges US to ‘seize the opportunity’ of Trump’s decertification of Iran deal

PM likens Iran to Nazi Germany in its ‘commitment to murder Jews’

Iran and Hamas Test Limits of Israel’s Patience

US pulls out of UN migration pact, calls it ‘inconsistent’ with Trump’s agenda

Golan ISIS threat looms large over Israel and Syrian rebels

Help Assad or Leave Cities in Ruins? The Politics of Rebuilding Syria

Bloody Battles Waged On The Streets Of Yemen’s Capital, As Alliances Appear To Shift

Yemen’s Houthi group says fires missile toward Abu Dhabi nuclear reactor

U.A.E. Denies Yemen Rebels Fired Missile at Abu Dhabi Nuclear Plant

Mattis seeks more cooperation with Pakistan on terror fight

Germany offers money for migrants who go back home

North Korean nuclear tests sickening residents with ‘ghost disease,’ defectors say

Cathay Pacific not changing routes despite crew’s suspected sighting of North Korean missile test

Senator: It’s time for US military families to leave SKorea

US, South Korea kick off largest-ever joint air drill

North Korea says US-South Korea military drills drive them to ‘brink of a nuclear war’

US mulls west coast missile defense locations amid North Korea nuclear threat

Future wars may depend as much on algorithms as on ammunition, report says.

‘Bomb on board’ Wi-Fi network causes flight to be diverted

Trump tweets about Russia probe spark warnings from lawmakers

Feinstein: Senate Russia probe building obstruction case against Trump

Holder, Comey fight Trump’s FBI slam: ‘Not letting this go’

Trump lawyer takes blame for Flynn tweet: ‘I did not mean to break news’

Mueller aide fired for anti-Trump texts now facing review for role in Clinton email probe

Trump reloads on FBI’s Clinton email probe, after reports of ‘tainted’ anti-Trump agent

New documents reveal FBI’s Clinton cover-up

U.S. allies fret as ‘guillotine’ hangs over Tillerson

U.K.’s May Fighting Fires at Home as EU Brexit Deadline Looms

Brexit impact on UK pharma industry to be investigated

Fear of missing out keeps investors in stocks despite risks

Enter the ‘petro’: Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency

Venezuela creating digital currency amid financing crisis

‘The Woebot will see you now’ – the rise of chatbot therapy

Facebook and Google Will Be Investigated for Possible ‘Disruption’ of Australia’s News Media

China’s Top Ideologue Calls for Tight Control of Internet

Apple, Google CEOs Bring Star Power as China Promotes Censorship

Safe Spaces Are an Answer to the Ever-More-Hostile Internet

Movie theaters fight streaming by assaulting the senses

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits the Vanuatu region

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

A cyclone called Ockhi – why this is such an unusual storm

Philippines launches probe into dengue vaccine scare

UN voices alarm about spread of HIV in Egypt amid social stigmas

Australian MP proposes to gay partner in parliament

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis call for boycott of London Jewish cultural center for hosting LGBTQ events

MSNBC’s Joy Reid apologizes for ‘insensitive’ LGBT blog posts

Los Angeles, NYC, London chase growing mass of sex cases

Billy Baldwin slams Trump’s ‘hypocrisy’ on addressing sexual misconduct allegations

Teen in California admits to molesting “upwards of 50 children,” police say

Nazis Take Anger Over Kate Steinle Verdict to White House, Where They Are Outnumbered By ‘Antifa’

The Devil’s Smokescreens and the Vatican’s Call for Christian Unity

Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique

A Brewing Ravi Zacharias Sex Scandal

Pastor, Gospel Singer Shawn Jones Drops Dead During Performance

Perry Noble Decides He Deserves a Second Chance at Preaching

Un-sacred Spaces – Theology to Justify Abortion

Church Nativity Scene Removed, Left in Heap

Parents Demand Govt take action against Christian religious group in Myanmar

Nigeria – Kidnapped Optician Shot Dead After Singing ‘Amazing Grace’

Billy Graham Rebukes Critics’ Claiming ‘Glimpses of Heaven’ Before Death Are ‘Hallucinations or Chemical Reactions in Brain’

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 02:20 PM PST

Billy Graham Rebukes Critics’ Claiming ‘Glimpses of Heaven’ Before Death Are ‘Hallucinations or Chemical Reactions in Brain’Evangelist Billy Graham pushed back against assumptions that peoples’ claims of having “glimpses of heaven” before they die are actually just a “hallucination or chemical reaction in the brain,” saying, instead, that he believes they are divine in nature.   Graham’s comments about these “heaven” experiences came after he received a question from a woman who said that her uncle believes that her aunt had one such vision before her death. The woman expressed skepticism and asked whether her

aunt was merely suffering from a hallucination. “Although it’s unusual, God does give some people a glimpse of Heaven’s glory just before they die,” Graham responded in a post on The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. “As the stones thrown by his enemies rained down upon him, Stephen — the first Christian martyr — “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).” Graham went on to say that he doesn’t buy critics’ claims that it’s all just a chemical reaction and said that he believes it is actually a “God-given glimpse into eternity” — something that God uses to show people that eternity is real and that Jesus is waiting for us. READ MORE

Kim Jong-Un Warns Trump Begging For World War 3 With Joint Drills

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 02:14 PM PST

Kim Jong-Un Warns Trump Begging For World War 3 With Joint DrillsKCNA has branded the US and South Korea as “foolish” and said the latest staged attack on their regime could “lead to a nuclear war at any moment.”  The Kim Jong-un mouthpiece said: “More than 230 fighters…including the ultramodern stealth fighters F-22 Raptor, F-35A, F-35B…and over tens of thousands of troops including 12 000 US troops are to be involved in the drill.  “Such drill is a dangerous provocation as it is driving the tension on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war. It is an

open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to a nuclear war any moment. “The US and the south Korean puppet forces are so foolish as to run amok with such stealth fighters. The stealth fighters which the enemies boast so much of will not escape the fate of a tiger moth.” Their response comes after fighter jets arrived in South Korea for a joint air drill between Seoul and Washington in a show of force against Kim Jong-un’s North Korea. READ MORE

China Calls for Tight Control of Internet, Is America Next?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 02:08 PM PST

China Calls for Tight Control of Internet, Is America Next?Little heard from but hugely influential, the professor-turned-Communist theoretician who has been a major adviser to three Chinese leaders finally stepped out of the shadows on Sunday. Known as the brain behind President Xi Jinping, Wang Huning made his first major speech since joining the Politburo Standing Committee, the seven-member group that rules China, at a conference created to show off the country’s technological strengths to the world. Well known for his icy remove and support of

authoritarianism, Mr. Wang called for security and order on the internet as part of five proposals he made to guide the future of cyberspace. He also emphasized China’s technological prowess and said more should be done by the government to guide the development of new industries like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Mr. Wang stepped onto the world stage before an audience that included Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, along with an all-star cast of Chinese tech entrepreneurs, such as Jack Ma of Alibaba. READ MORE

Saying Grace Before Meal Could Offend Non-Christians and Atheists, UK Girl Guides Leaders Told

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:42 PM PST

Saying Grace Before Meal Could Offend Non-Christians and Atheists, UK Girl Guides Leaders ToldIt has emerged young UK Guides members are not being invited to thank God during grace, under guidance being issued to leaders in a bid boost inclusivity.  While acknowledging that it “may be traditional to say or sing grace before a meal” during a residential event, the advice urges leaders to consider “how this might make members who are from a different faith, or have no faith, feel.” It

recommends: “If you’d like to say something before a meal, try to think of a statement that doesn’t make reference to any particular god or faith.  “For example, ‘Let’s all take a moment to show gratitude for this food and to remember how fortunate we are to have this meal.’”  The idea was dismissed by one member of the Church of England’s General Synod governing body as “absolute nonsense”. Alison Ruoff also told the Mail on Sunday: “The Guides are being very foolish in trying to whitewash Christianity, and they must not.” READ MORE

New Dead Sea Scroll Translation Could Unlock Bible Mysteries from 2000 Years Ago

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:31 PM PST

New Dead Sea Scroll Translation Could Unlock Bible Mysteries from 2000 Years AgoOne American archaeologist is trying to crack the Dead Sea Scroll code.  Alison Schofield, a professor of religious and Judaic studies from the University of Denver, is working on a new translation of the ancient scroll. She hopes to get a rare look at Judaism and Christianity from the time of Jesus.  “I was always a fan of Indiana Jones, and I was always interested in the Middle East,” Schofield told the University of Denver in an interview. “I’ve been interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls for as long as I can remember.”

The scrolls were originally discovered in 1947 in the mountain caves of Qumran. However, as technology improves, Schofield and her colleagues are continuously excavating new pieces of the scroll to unveil new information. “This was really an adventure for me. It was very surreal in the sense that the setting itself was very dramatic. If you are in the cave, you are hanging over a nearly-thousand-foot cliff. It is incredibly exciting and dangerous to be repelling  into a cave and to work on the archaeological dig harnessed the entire time.” READ MORE

Powerful magnitude 6 earthquake strikes Ecuador as damage feared in coastal city

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:19 PM PST

Powerful magnitude 6 earthquake strikes Ecuador as damage feared in coastal cityThe quake struck 19km northeast of Bahia de Caraquez on the west coast of Ecuador at 11.19UTC. Tremors came at a depth of 24.73km, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). It is not known yet if there has been any major damage from the quake. Ex-President Rafael Correa tweeted: Strong quake in San Vicente and the bay. I hope everything is okay.  “Here in Esmeraldas, it was also felt strongly.  “It

reminds me of harder times in my presidency.” The large, bustling city of Bahia de Caraquez is popular with tourists and famed for its beaches. It is located around 360km west of the country’s capital Quito. A magnitude 7.8 quake in the country last year caused widespread devastation. At least 676 people died and further 16,600 people were injured in the disaster. READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: US orders 16,000 troops, 230 jets to get ready for North Korea…

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:10 PM PST

WAR DRUMS: US orders 16,000 troops, 230 jets to get ready for North Korea…North Korea better be watching its back today as thousands of US troops and 230 warplanes descend on Kim Jong-un’s doorstep.   Vigilant Ace – massive joint war games – kicks off today as the US and South Korea rehearse for battle with Pyongyang.  Hundreds of aircraft and thousands of soldiers and airmen are taking part in the drill, which is one of the biggest ever of its kind. US and South Korean forces will

be rehearsing for a full-scale war with North Korea. Nuclear fears have reignited as Kim fired his latest missile last week – his biggest and most powerful yet, the Hwasong-15. And there now fears Kim could be readying the dreaded Juche Bird, his most shocking weapons test to date. US President Donald Trump will be looking to flex his muscles as he dispatches his most deadly fighter planes to ready for war in Vigilant Ace. READ MORE

James the brother of Jesus mentioned in ancient Christian document found at Oxford

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 11:55 AM PST

James the brother of Jesus mentioned in ancient Christian document found at OxfordA manuscript of ancient alternative Christian teachings has been found by two researchers from the University of Texas. The manuscript, found at Oxford University, describes Jesus’ relationship with a brother called James. The Greek-language scripture is being labeled as part of the Nag Hammadi Codex, a collection of early Christian writings discovered in Egypt back in 1945.  Wrapped in velum, the original documents were uncovered by farmers in the village Nag Hammadi and contain teachings of

Gnosticism, a strand of Christianity that incorporates pre-New Testament doctrine. The newly studied heretical writings, mentioning secret teachings from Jesus to James, described as the Christian messiah’s brother, are believed to date back to the fifth or sixth century. According to Geoffrey Smith, one of the scholars who located the artifacts, very few examples of Gnostic texts in the Greek language still exist. READ MORE

Carl Lentz Says Old Testament Passage Forbidding Tattoos Does Not Apply Today

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 11:49 AM PST

Carl Lentz Says Old Testament Passage Forbidding Tattoos Does Not Apply TodayATTENTION: The following views and opinions expressed in this article does not reflect those of ETH

Hillsong New York City Pastor Carl Lentz recently addressed the criticism he often receives from Christians about his tattoos.  While speaking with World Religion News in a recent interview, the popular pastor responded to a question about “conflicting or potentially conflicting Biblical passages” and how he interprets them, specifically with regard to tattoos. “Biblical interpretation is huge right. So with tattoos not being allowed you mean Leviticus. We play both sides of the coin I think that is healthy.

Like this paradox of scripture, interpretation is actually is part of our faith, the tension of it. So, on one hand, we say that is the Old Testament scripture, there is no New Testament verification of that. That law that had to do with slaves, that identified you as part of a tribe we don’t believe that came through the cross,” Lentz said. The scripture the minister was referring to is found in Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. READ MORE

University Drops Freshman Label Because it Contains The Word ‘Man’

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 11:44 AM PST

University Drops Freshman Label Because it Contains The Word ‘Man’Trinity College Dublin in Ireland is getting rid of the “freshman” label for first-year students because it contains the word “man.” Trinity College Dublin announced this week that they would be dropping usage of the term “freshman” because it contains the word “man.” In a statement, the university announced that the changed is being made to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin announced this week that they would be dropping usage of the term “freshman” because

it contains the word “man.” In a statement, the university announced that the changed is being made to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in Ireland. “As we approach 100 years of women’s suffrage in Ireland in 2018,” the statement read, “it is timely to reflect on changes in our student body since “Freshman” first came into use, and to ensure those changes are reflected in the name we give them.” READ MORE

 

Russia and China building space weapons to target US satellites

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 08:23 PM PST

Russia and China building space weapons to target US satellitesA senior US general said Saturday that countries like Russia and China are actively building weapons that can target space-based US military assets like satellites. “They’ve been building weapons, testing weapons, building weapons to operate from the earth in space, jamming weapons, laser weapons, and they have not kept it secret,” Gen. John Hyten, the head of US Strategic Command, told an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California. “They’re building those capabilities to

challenge the United States of America, to challenge our allies, and to change the balance of power in the world,” added Hyten, who oversees all US military operations in space. “We cannot allow that to happen. Russia and China saw how the US military made successful use of satellites during military operations like the 1991 Gulf War and now seek ways to deny the US the ability to use satellites in future conflicts, Hyten said. READ MORE

Attack siren blares in Hawaii for first time since Cold War…

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 08:18 PM PST

Attack siren blares in Hawaii for first time since Cold War…A siren blared across Hawaii on Friday for the first time since the end of the Cold War in an effort to prepare tourists and residents for a possible nuclear attack from North Korea.  The state is the first to bring back the Cold War-era warning system, Hawaii emergency management officials said. The wailing siren sounded for a minute after the usual testing of the steady alert for tsunamis and other natural disasters that Hawaii residents are used to hearing.  There was little reaction from people on famous Waikiki Beach, where the test sounded like a distant siren.

“We believe that it is imperative that we be prepared for every disaster, and in today’s world, that includes a nuclear attack,” Gov. David Ige said this week, adding that the possibility of a strike is remote.Ige said the new test will ensure the public knows what they should do in case of an imminent attack. If a missile is launched, residents and tourists would have less than 20 minutes to take shelter, officials said. READ MORE

San Diego opens giant tent to contain hepatitis outbreak…

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 08:08 PM PST

San Diego opens giant tent to contain hepatitis outbreak…San Diego on Friday opened the first of three industrial-sized tents to house the homeless as part of the city’s efforts to contain a hepatitis A outbreak stemming from the deplorable conditions people were living in on the streets.  About 20 people made their way to a bunk bed Friday in the tent that will house 350 single men and women.

Two other giant tents will open later this month — one for families and one for veterans. The tents will house a total of 700 people. The city turned to tents to get people off the streets and contain a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20 people in the past year, marking the worst epidemic of its kind in the US in 20 years. The virus lives in feces. READ MORE

Facebook using artificial intelligence as means of suicide prevention

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 08:01 PM PST

Facebook using artificial intelligence as means of suicide preventionFacebook is turning to artificial intelligence to detect if someone might be contemplating suicide.  The social media giant already has mechanisms for flagging posts from people thinking about harming themselves. The new feature is intended to detect such posts before anyone reports them.  CBS Philadelphia reports the AI tools use pattern recognition to identify signals, like comments asking if someone is OK. The Facebook team will then be alerted and will work to quickly get the person help.

The company is also using AI to prioritize the order that flagged posts are sent to its human moderators so they can quickly alert local authorities. “In the last month alone, these AI tools have helped us connect with first responders quickly more than 100 times,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Monday. “With all the fear about how AI may be harmful in the future, it’s good to remind ourselves how AI is actually helping save people’s lives today.”  READ MORE

Arab League Warns Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital would “fuel violence”

Posted: 02 Dec 2017 07:56 PM PST

Arab League Warns Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital would “fuel violence”Any move by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would fuel extremism and violence, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday. He spoke a day after a senior U.S. administration official said U.S. President Donald Trump was likely to make the announcement next week. The Palestinians want Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the international community does not recognize Israel’s claim on all of the city, home to sites holy to the

Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions. Word of Trump’s planned announcement, which would deviate from previous U.S. presidents who have insisted the Jerusalem’s status must be decided in negotiations, has already drawn criticism from the Palestinian Authority. “Today we say very clearly that taking such action is not justified … It will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and resort to violence,” Aboul Gheit said in a statement published on the Arab league’s website. READ MORE


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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The Antidote to Anemic Worship

Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years, sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation on what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has unfortunately resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A.W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.

Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: What is central to Christian worship? Historically, the more liturgical churches have argued that the sacraments or ordinances form the heart of Christian worship. These churches argue that the elements of the Lord’s Supper and the water of baptism most powerfully present the gospel. Among evangelicals, some see evangelism as the heart of worship and therefore plan every facet of the service—songs, prayers, the sermon—with the evangelistic invitation in mind.

Though most evangelicals mention the preaching of the Word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. When preaching the Word retreats, a host of entertaining innovations will take its place.

Traditional norms of worship are now subordinated to a demand for relevance and creativity. A media-driven culture of images has replaced the word-centered culture that gave birth to the Reformation churches. In some sense, the image-driven culture of modern evangelicalism is an embrace of the very practices rejected by the Reformers in their quest for true biblical worship.

Music fills the space of most evangelical worship, and much of this music comes in the form of contemporary choruses marked by precious little theological content. Beyond the popularity of the chorus as a musical form, many evangelical churches seem intensely concerned to replicate studio-quality musical presentations.

In terms of musical style, the more traditional churches feature large choirs—often with orchestras—and may even sing the established hymns of the faith. Professional staff and an army of volunteers spend much of the week in rehearsals and practice sessions.

All this is not lost on the congregation. Some Christians shop for churches that offer the worship style and experience that fit their expectations. Those dissatisfied with what they find at one church can quickly move to another, sometimes using the language of self-expression to explain that the new church “meets our needs” or “allows us to worship.”

A concern for true biblical worship was at the very heart of the Reformation. But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music above all else as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship is the preaching of the Word of God.

Thanks be to God, evangelism does take place in Christian worship. Confronted by the presentation of the gospel and the preaching of the Word, sinners are drawn to Christ in faith and the offer of salvation is presented to all. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper and baptism are honored as ordinances by the Lord”s own command, and each finds its place in true worship. But music is not the central act of Christian worship, and neither is evangelism or even the ordinances. The heart of Christian worship is the authentic preaching of the Word of God.

Expository preaching is central, irreducible, and nonnegotiable to the Bible’s mission of authentic worship that pleases God.

The centrality of preaching is the theme of both testaments of Scripture. In Nehemiah 8, we find the people demanding that Ezra the scribe bring the book of the law to the assembly. Interestingly, the text explains that Ezra and those assisting him read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8). This remarkable text presents a portrait of expository preaching. Once the text was read, it was carefully explained to the congregation. Ezra did not stage an event or orchestrate a spectacle—he simply and carefully proclaimed the Word of God.

This text is a sobering indictment of much of contemporary Christianity. According to the text, a demand for biblical preaching erupted within the hearts of the people. They gathered as a congregation and summoned the preacher. This reflects an intense hunger and thirst for the preaching of the Word of God. Where is this desire evident among today’s evangelicals?

In far too many churches, the Bible is nearly silent. The public reading of Scripture has been dropped from many services and the sermon has been sidelined, reduced to a brief devotional appended to the music. Many preachers accept this as a necessary concession to the age of entertainment. Some hope to put in a brief message of encouragement or exhortation before the conclusion of the service.

The anemia of evangelical worship—all the music and energy aside—is directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching. Such preaching would confront the congregation with nothing less than the living and active Word of God. That confrontation will shape the congregation as the Holy Spirit accompanies the Word, opens eyes, and applies that Word to human hearts.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Source: The Antidote to Anemic Worship

Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions?

Who Is Jesus, According to Other ReligionsPeople trying to discover the truth about God would be wise to take a hard look at Jesusbefore looking anywhere else. While that may sound like a bold assertion in and of itself, it really isn’t when you consider Jesus is the one religious leader who is most frequently mentioned by religious groups, whether or not they happen to be Christian. Every major religious movement considers Jesus to be an important religious figure. Every movement makes some effort to account for His existence and teaching. This ought to give seekers a reason to pause and consider the life of Jesus seriously.

All the world’s major religions feel compelled to account for Jesus in one way or another:

Jews believe Jesus was Mary’s son, was a teacher (Rabbi), had many disciples, was respected, performed miracles, claimed to be the Messiah and was crucified on the cross. They also acknowledge His followers reported Jesus was raised from the dead.

Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, is to be revered and respected, was a prophet, a wise teacher who worked miracles, ascended to heaven, and will come again.

Ahmadiyya Muslims believe Jesus may have been born of a virgin, was a prophet and wise teacher, worked miracles, and was crucified on a cross.

Bahá’í believe Jesus came from God, was a wise teacher who had a divine and human nature, worked miracles, and was crucified and resurrected as an atonement for humanity.

Hindus believe Jesus was a holy man, a wise teacher, and is a ‘god’.

Buddhists believe Jesus was an enlightened man and a wise teacher.

New Age believers maintain Jesus was a wise moral teacher.

Is He Worthy of An Investigation?
Given Jesus is a common feature of the major religions of the world, it might be important for us to learn more about the man whom everyone feels the need to describe. While the world’s religions account for Jesus tangentially, only one faith system is established on the authentic, attested eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, teaching and ministry. If one was inclined to begin a spiritual quest for truth, it would be wise to start with the faith system best describing the man all other faith systems find themselves compelled to explain. Christianity is founded on the reliable record of the man-God we know as Jesus and ought to be the first stop in any seeker’s journey of faith.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case DetectiveChristian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case ChristianityCold-Case Christianity for KidsGod’s Crime SceneGod’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.

Read more: Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions?

Five Reasons the Homogeneous Church Is Declining and Dying

When you are in your worship services next Sunday, look at the people around you.

Do they all look like you? Do they all come from the same economic backgrounds? Are they are about the same age?

If so, you are in a homogeneous church. As the old homogeneous unit principle implied, “We attract people who are like us.” That principle was a point of contention and debate for decades. Is it descriptive (a reality observed), or is it prescriptive (a strategy pursued)?

I contend that the healthy church in America will be neither. Indeed, I contend that the homogenous church is declining and dying.

Why? Here are five key reasons.

  1. We live in a heterogeneous culture. I grew up in the racist world of the Deep South. We whites had our own churches, places of business, and country clubs. No one else was allowed. If you went to the doctor, there were separate waiting rooms for whites and African Americans (“Coloreds”). It was abysmal. It was sickening. I know. Racism is not gone. But I am grateful that my children and grandchildren don’t even know why a person of a different color should not be their friend or colleague. The culture has changed. But not all churches have changed. Those that haven’t will die.
  2. Gen Z will not have a majority racial or ethnic group. Those born from 2001 to today are growing up in a generation that has no majority group. For the first time in American history, whites will be a minority with other minority groups. That is the real world. Our churches need to reflect that real world.
  3. The Millennials tend to avoid homogeneous churches. This generation, born between 1980 and 2000, sees homogenous churches as aberrations. It does not reflect the reality of the world in which they live. They may visit a homogeneous church, but they likely will not return.
  4. Cultural Christianity is dying. “Cultural Christians” is an oxymoron. We use that term to refer to unregenerate people who had some level of participation in a congregation because it was the culturally acceptable thing to do. It was good for business and politics. That world is almost gone. Cultural Christians could come to our segregated churches with no qualms, because they only attended to get business connections, to get votes, or just to be accepted as a member of good standing in the community. That world no longer exists.
  5. Homogeneity is a form of segregation. It is not gospel-centric. This issue is the essence of the matter. When we begin to define our churches by skin color, socioeconomic class, or any other divider, we are going counter to the gospel.

Where should we begin to move our churches to reflect the centrality of the gospel? A first step is to know your community. Do the research to find out who is really in the community around your church. We offer an excellent resource that provides over 30 pages of demographic and psychographic data on your community. Whatever path you take, get to know who is really in your community. That information will let you know if there is a divide between those who attend your church and those who live around you.

Homogeneous churches are dying. They do not reflect the gospel. It is my prayer that our churches will soon reflect this reality when we gather before the Lamb of God:

After this I looked and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, CSB)

Source: Five Reasons the Homogeneous Church Is Declining and Dying

Knots in Christ’s Family Tree: Untangling the Lord’s Lineage

Matthew 1:1-17Luke 3:23-38

Code: B171204

One of our family’s Christmas traditions has always been the reading of the Christmas story from the gospels. We’ve done it every year as long as I can remember. When I was a child, my father read the account from either Matthew or Luke while we sat at his feet. Now I do the reading.

A few years ago while studying through Matthew, I pondered the question of why our family readings of Matthew 1 always start in the middle of the chapter. Matthew begins his account of Christ’s birth with a broad genealogy, but we had never made it a part of our Christmas reading.

Skipping the genealogy in a family reading is understandable, especially when you’ve got small children who are easily bored. I’m the first to admit that the genealogies in Scripture don’t make the most stimulating public readings. But realizing that we were skipping this passage in our Christmas celebration piqued my curiosity, and I began to study Matthew 1:1-17 in earnest. It was spellbinding. Virtually every name in the list reveals some lesson about God’s grace. Together they clearly show how important God’s grace was from generation to generation, as He nurtured and protected the lineage He had chosen to give birth to the Messiah.

A Chronicle of God’s Grace

The genealogies are included in Scripture for that very reason. Not only do they trace the royal line of Israel, but they also outline God’s dealings with His people. They reveal how God’s sovereign hand has ordered human events to fulfill His own purposes despite tremendous obstacles. Mankind’s worst sin, rebellion, and treachery have utterly failed to thwart the grace of God.

The lineage of Judah’s kings went back to David. God’s promise was that David’s offspring would bring forth the One who would deliver Israel and reign as King. In 2 Samuel 7:16, speaking through the prophet Nathan, God promised David, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”

What this meant was that any claimant to the throne of Israel had to demonstrate genealogically that he descended from David and was in the line of royalty. Scripture records the infallible and authoritative record of that lineage.

The genealogies had other practical uses in Old Testament Israel. They were often essential for the conducting of important business. Laws governing the buying and selling of property, for instance, were designed to keep internal boundaries intact. Land could not be bought and sold across tribal lines. Therefore a person’s genealogy was required simply to validate the sale of property.

The entire priesthood also depended on genealogies. All Israel’s priests had to be descendants of Levi. After the Babylonian captivity, Ezra used the genealogies to determine which priests had a legitimate claim to office. Those who couldn’t prove their heritage could not serve as priests.

For all those reasons, the genealogies were carefully recorded and guarded. The most important ones were preserved in Scripture. This practice went on for centuries, through the time of Jesus’ birth.

In fact, when the New Testament begins, we find Joseph and Mary going up to be registered according to their own ancestry in Bethlehem, their ancestral home (Luke 2:3-4). The nation still identified people genealogically.

A Look at the Apparent “Contradictions”

Two Genealogies

The two final genealogies in Scripture both trace the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17Luke 3:23-38). Some see these two genealogies as contradictory. A close look shows they are not. Matthew starts with Abraham and follows the line through David to Jesus via Joseph’s family. Luke starts with Jesus and outlines the genealogy of Mary’s family back through David and all the way back to Adam.

Note that Matthew doesn’t refer to Joseph as Joseph the father of Jesus, but as “the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born” (Matthew 1:16). Scripture is clear that Joseph was not the father of Jesus—God was.

Because Jesus had no human father, He couldn’t be a descendant of David except through His mother. Still, the legal right to rule always came through the father’s side, and this was true even in Jesus’ case, because He was legally Joseph’s eldest son. Thus we have two necessary genealogies. Luke shows that through Mary, Jesus was literally a blood descendant of David. Matthew proves that through His adopted father Joseph, Jesus was legally in the royal line. In every way possible, He had the right to rule.

Two Prophecies

In fact, Jesus’ ancestry was an elegant solution to one of the most troubling dilemmas of Old Testament Messianic prophecy. God had cursed the royal line. Jeremiah 22:30 records God’s judgment on Jeconiah, also known as Coniah, or Jehoiachin: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’”

This does not mean Jeconiah would actually be childless, but rather that the effects of the curse would nullify the birthright. The lineage of kings would end; his children would not be his heirs. His right to rule, as well as all the other privileges of the royal birthright, were permanently taken from him and his descendants. The royal line was in essence terminated, as if Jeconiah had been childless.

God meant business. Jeconiah was indeed the last king in the Davidic line. He was succeeded on the throne of David not by his son, but by his uncle, Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17). Zedekiah’s reign marked the end of Judah as a kingdom. And so Jeremiah’s prophecy was literally fulfilled. Not one of Jeconiah’s sons or any of their descendants ever again returned to the throne. It was a sad end to the Davidic dynasty.

Jeremiah’s prophecy seems at first to be a glaring contradiction to the Messianic promise. Messiah was to be in the royal line of David, yet that line was effectively ended with Jeconiah. How could these two equally inspired, infallible prophecies both be fulfilled? Messiah had to come from the royal lineage of David and thus be a descendant of Jeconiah. But how could He ever rule as a king without violating the prophecy that no descendant of Jeconiah would ever reign?

The fact is, if Jesus had been the literal son of Joseph, born of his seed, He never could lay claim to the throne of David. He would be under the curse. And yet because He was still the legal son of Joseph, He inherited the right to rule, for He was not under the curse that had been passed down to everyone born in the royal line since the days of Jeconiah.

God’s sovereign orchestration of events to bring His Son into the world is truly marvelous. But it doesn’t end there. Next time we’ll consider how God wove sinners and outcasts into the Lord’s lineage as further illustrations of His great grace.

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)

 


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7 Sure Marks of a False Teacher

Search through the long history of the Christian church and you’ll see that false teachers have been present at every time and in every era. They were in the early church, the medieval church, the Reformation church, the Puritan church, and of course they are in today’s church. They’ve been a plague since the beginning and they are a plague today. But what’s interesting is that while the times and circumstances may have changed, their methods really haven’t. Whether you’re looking at the first century or the twenty-first century, you’ll soon spot seven sure marks of a false teacher. Watch the video or read the transcript to learn more!

Transcript

You search through the long history of the Christian church and you’ll see that false teachers have been present at every time and present at every era. They were in the early church, they were in the medieval church, they were in the Reformation church, they were in the Puritan church and of course, they’re in today’s church. False teachers have been a plague since the very beginning. They are a plague in our day. But what’s interesting to me is that while the times change and while the circumstances change, the methods of these false teachers really don’t change very much. Whether you’re looking at the first century or you’re looking at the 21st century, you’ll pretty quickly spot seven sure marks of a false teacher.

Today we’re looking at seven sure marks of a false teacher. And here is the first one. False teachers are man pleasers. At heart, these false teachers, they’re not interested in looking good in the eyes of God. They’re really only interested at looking good in the eyes of men. They’re what the apostle Paul referred to as ear ticklers. Teachers whose great skill is learning what other people want to hear and then just giving it to them, just regurgitating what people already want to hear. Instead of challenging them, they flatter them. Instead of exposing sin, they affirm sin and they coddle sin. Listen to what the Bible says about a true teacher. “But just as we had been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”False teachers speak to please man.

Second, false teachers bring their harshest criticism against God’s most faithful servants. And I’m sure you’ve seen this before. False teachers, they always save their most brutal attacks for the people who love God the most and serve God the best. Just think of the apostle Paul. All right, his whole ministry was constantly threatened by people. His letters are weighty and strong they said, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech is of no account. Right? Even more so, you can think of Jesus Christ who suffered constant attacks, from who? From the religious authorities. Religious teachers continue today to rebuke and to belittle God’s most faithful servants.

Third, false teachers teach their own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom. False teachers always teach their own foolishness instead of divine wisdom. This means then, that the ultimate source of their teaching is their own minds. It’s their own hearts, it’s their own sinful desires. Listen to what God said through the prophet Jeremiah. He said, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I commend them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” That was true in Jeremiah’s day, it’s just as true in our day.

Fourth mark of a false teacher. False teachers ignore what is of greatest importance to focus instead on what’s of lesser importance. False teachers, they always place great emphasis on small commandments, while they blatantly ignore the great ones, the important ones. They skip over what the Bible emphasizes the most, to focus instead on these little verses and these minor characters. Think again of Jesus when he spoke against the religious authorities, the religious leaders of his day. He said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” That’s from Matthew 23. You can tell a false teacher when he governs godliness by keeping the smallest rules even while he gladly and blatantly breaks the big ones.

The fifth mark of a false teacher. False teachers mask their false doctrine with eloquent speech and impressive logic. You see a false teacher can’t bring a consistent interpretation of the Bible. So what does he do? He hides blasphemy and he hides dangerous doctrine behind what seems to be a powerful argument. Behind this eloquent use of the language, he offers to his listeners the spiritual equivalent of this beautiful attractive piece of candy that’s laced with deadly poison. It appears scrumptious, valuable, delicious but it will still kill you dead. Paul had to remind the church in Corinth. He said, “when I came to you brothers, I did not come to you proclaiming the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” Paul came with a simple message that had all the power of God behind it.

Sixth mark of a false teacher. False teachers are far more concerned with winning others to their own opinions than in actually helping people and bettering people. Honestly, they don’t care about you, they care about themselves. They want your loyalty, they want your money, they want your body, they want something, anything. Jesus said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” See false teachers, they’re ultimately not in the business of bettering lives and saving souls. They’re ultimately in the business of winning followers and then gaining power, gaining authority for themselves.

The seventh, the final mark of a false teacher. False teachers exploit their followers. False teachers, they take advantage of people. They take advantage of their ignorance, advantage of their greed, advantage of their lust or immaturity or anything, something so that they can exploit them. They find people who long for money, they promise them money. They find people who are consumed with lust, they promise, you can fulfill those lusts. That’s exactly why Peter warns, listen to what he said. He said, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.” What will they do? “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… and in their greed, they will exploit you with false words.” See, false teachers, they’re concerned with your goods, not with your good. They don’t want to save the lost, they want to serve themselves. These false teachers they are perfectly content for Satan to have your soul, as long as they can have your stuff.

False teachers, they’ve always been a plague in the church. They always will be a plague in the church until the day the Lord returns. But we know their methods. Even better, we know the scripture, which always exposes them, for who they are. Always exposes them for what they are. See our best defense against false teachers is to know the Word of God so well, that we immediately spot and we can immediately shut down any deviation from that precious truth, that is the Word of God.

Source: 7 Sure Marks of a False Teacher

What is Heresy? Is Arminianism Heresy, Part I

Pulpit & Pen examines what the meaning of heresy is. Included in this piece is a list of specified, defined heresies. Some of the examples given are: Antinomianism, Arianism, Modalism, Montanism, Pelagianism, Sabellianism, and the Galatian Heresy (works righteousness). All are prominent heresies.  Because the visible Church is infested with heresy, believers must do as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). We must read and study the scriptures to find out if someone’s teaching is true or if it is false.

P&P tells us what heresy is and what it is not — and what they consider damnable heresy:

  1. Random Internet Denizen: John MacArthur is a heretic! Us: Why? Random Internet Denizen: Because he said you could accept the Mark of the Beast and still be saved! Us: What heresy is that? Random Internet Denizen: What do you mean? Us: Heresies have names. What is the name of that heresy? Random Internet Denizen: I don’t know. Us: So John MacArthur is a heretic, but you don’t know what kind of heretic? Random Internet Denizen: [silence]

That’s pretty much how the majority of heresy discussions go. The term is often – but not always – misapplied in various ways. Unfortunately, the term has been misapplied so frequently that some have thrown out the term altogether, and choose not to use it at all. But, heresy is a fine word. There’s no reason to throw it out. Heretic is a fine title to give someone, and there’s no reason we should stop. We just need to make sure that we’re using it correctly.

View article →

Source: What is Heresy? Is Arminianism Heresy, Part I

Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique

Before we get to Christianity Today’s story, you should know that Ravi Zacharias does not hold a doctorate in anything (more on this here). He has honorary doctorates. An honorary doctorate is not the same thing as an earned Ph.D.  Zacharias has not written a dissertation nor has he passed an oral defense. He has a master’s degree. Period. Thus, we should not refer to him as “Dr.”

It is time for Mr. Zacharias to come clean, stand tall, and admit that he’s not a doctor of anything. But, as you will see, he isn’t willing to do that.

Elizabeth Prata reminds us that “Even though there are some towering men of the faith, we must continue to do our duty and test all things against scripture. No one is immune from potential apostasy, error, or sin.”

As for the sexting allegations, neither Zacharias or his accuser can answer further questions about the matter due to the court settlement’s confidentiality agreement.

Now to Kate Shellnut and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra’s report:

Ravi Zacharias built his career defending the Christian faith. Now the famous apologist is defending his own reputation.

Today, Zacharias and his eponymous Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) released their first statements specifically addressing a personal lawsuit involving a married woman who sent nude photos to the popular author and speaker, as well as accusations that Zacharias has misled supporters by inflating his credentials in his RZIM biography.

View article →

Source: Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique

Born Again Christians Continue Declining, Only Minority Believe They Must Share the Gospel: Survey

Christian Post

The percentage of born again Christians in America continues declining, a major religious survey has found. And only a minority of the faithful believe they have a strong personal responsibility to share the Gospel.

View Article

Sisters in Christ: Are You Causing Brothers in Christ to Sin in Their Hearts?

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

I remember a time when my husband and I were visiting a new church. The music was way too “Rockin'” for us. But the sermon was good and sound. After service, the wife of the pastor offered to walk us around to meet people.

She took us into a 4th grade Sunday School class. As we walked into the room, the teacher was obviously caught off guard. You see, she was wearing an extremely revealing low cut sweater, and when she saw us she immediately attempted to pull up her sweater.

To say that was an akward moment would be a gross understatement. As we talked with her, she held onto her sweater to keep it from slipping down where it was before we came in.

Women who cause their brothers in Christ to Sin in their hearts

Okay. I know that there are going to be women who will…

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12/04/17 No Longer Sinning

READING: Ezekiel 47-48, 1 John 3

“Everyone who remains in Him does not sin.”

1 John 3:6

Read these texts from today’s reading, and think about what they say about all of us:

  • “Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:6)
  • “The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8)
  • “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin . . .” (1 John 3:9)

At face value, these verses condemn all of us. We all sin. And if we sin, we’re apparently of the devil. It would be easy to read these words and give up in our walk with God, for none of us can live up to, “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin.”

In these verses, though, the phrases “does not sin,” “who sins,” and “who commits sin” are best understood in the original language as “keeps on sinning” or “makes a practice of sinning.” The point is not that we never sin as a believer (that’s why we need the promise that God forgives us in 1 John 1:9), but that we cannot allow sin to control us. God has changed our hearts and filled us with His Spirit in such a way that we cannot keep on sinning if we’ve been born again (1 John 3:9). Habits should be gone, for He has freed us from the bondages that control us.

Instead, our responsibility is to keep on abiding in Him (1 John 3:6). We are to walk in the light, not in the darkness. We are people of life, not of death. We live in truth, not in lies. And, we don’t let anyone deceive us about these truths; rather, we recognize and believe that “the one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Don’t let sin abide in your life today.
  • Abide in God by reading and obeying His Word.

PRAYER: “God, I desperately need your help to stop sin from controlling me. Help me. Forgive me.”

Source: 12/04/17 No Longer Sinning

December 4, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

56:7 My house … for all the peoples. In the kingdom of the Messiah, the Jerusalem temple will be the focal point for worship of the Lord by people of all ethnic backgrounds. Jesus cited a violation of this anticipation by His contemporaries in His second cleansing of the temple: Jewish leaders had made the temple a commercial venture (Mt 21:13; Mk 11:17; Lk 19:46).[1]


56:7 My holy mountain is the place of God’s presence and his people’s worship—a house of prayer for all peoples. See 1 Kings 8:41–43; Isa. 2:2–3; 25:6–8; Mark 11:17 (combining it with Jer. 7:11).

56:7 The extension of salvation to the nations takes place in Christ (Matt. 21:13; Acts 1:8; Rev. 5:9).[2]


56:7 my holy mountain Zion, the temple mount in Jerusalem. See note on 2:2.

their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Foreigners and eunuchs were not allowed to enter the temple to offer sacrifices. The Apostle Paul may be alluding to this passage in Rom 15:16.

a house of prayer for all peoples The idea that foreigners would pray to Yahweh is found in Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple in 1 Kgs 8:41–43. The motif of Gentile nations coming to acknowledge Yahweh and worship Him alongside the people of Israel is found throughout Isaiah (see Isa 2:2–5; 19:19–25; 42:6; 49:6; 60:5).

The outer courtyard of the temple was supposed to be the area where foreigners could come and pray. But by the first century ad, it had been turned into a marketplace. In the nt, Jesus evicts the merchants from the temple court and quotes this line from v. 7 regarding the appropriate use of the house of God (see Matt 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17, and Luke 19:45–46).[3]


56:7 house of prayer. Being here means being included in the covenant and enjoying the life of communion with God (2:2–4; Ps. 15:1; cf. 1 Kin. 8:41–43; Mark 11:17).[4]


56:7 Jesus quoted these words when He drove the money changers out of the temple (cf. Matt. 21:13; Luke 19:46).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 56:7). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1343). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 56:7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1032). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 56:7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

December 4: A Prisoner for Christ

It has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.

Philippians 1:13

The apostle Paul always saw himself as a prisoner because of Christ—never because of crime. He was in chains because he believed in, preached, and represented Jesus Christ.

From the point of view of Rome, Paul was a captive chained to a Roman guard. But from Paul’s perspective, the Roman guards were captives chained to him! The result of such close confinement was that the cause of Christ had “become evident to the whole palace guard.” Far from being a burdensome condition, Paul had been given the opportunity to witness for Christ to each guard assigned to him, at six hours a stretch.

What did those soldiers see? They saw Paul’s godly character, graciousness, patience, love, wisdom, and conviction. As members of the palace guard were converted, salvation spread beyond them to “those who are of Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22). No matter how difficult it may appear on the surface, no one is too difficult to reach with the gospel.[1][1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 365). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 4: The Kingdom of Heaven

To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 13:11

In the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:10) we see two aspects of the kingdom of heaven. “On earth” refers to the present kingdom, mediated through God’s servants, and “in heaven” refers to God’s universal, direct reign.

Through the centuries the present kingdom has attracted both true and false citizens. Only God can infallibly distinguish true citizens (the redeemed) from false ones. Jesus shows that many branches that seem to belong to the vine actually do not. The spurious ones will be pruned away and thrown into the fire (John 15:2, 6). Such people only superficially identify with Christ but are never really citizens of the kingdom of heaven or part of the body of Christ. They appear to be true citizens only from an imperfect human perspective.

Paradoxically, Scripture uses terms such as Israel, God’s people, and disciples that can include both nominal and genuine believers. Paul does make it clear, however, that “he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart” (Rom. 2:29; cf. 9:6–7). Only at the very end of the age, when the eternal kingdom begins, will those who are true citizens of God’s kingdom be clear to everyone. (Even during the Millennium, when Christ directly rules on earth, there will be disloyal citizens; cf. Rev. 20:7–8.)

The only way now to ensure your kingdom citizenship is to repent, trust in Jesus Christ, and pursue the sanctification that new life in Him brings (cf. Mark 1:15).

ASK YOURSELF

What should churches do to discern and encourage those who are Christians in name only to put their faith in Christ wholeheartedly? Why do we tend to avoid dealing in touchy matters like these? And what is the result of our reticence?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 347). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 4: CONFUSED ABOUT WORSHIP

For ye are the temple of the living God.

2 Corinthians 6:16

To really know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is to love and worship Him!

As God’s people, we are so often confused that we could be known as God’s poor, stumbling, bumbling people, for we are most prone to think of worship as something we do when we go to church on Sunday!

We call it God’s house. We have dedicated it to Him. So, we continue with the confused idea that it must be the only place where we can worship Him.

We come to the Lord’s house made of brick and stone and wood. We are used to hearing the call to worship: “The Lord is in His holy temple—let us kneel before Him!” This is on Sunday and in church—very nice!

But on Monday, as we go about our different duties, are we aware of the continuing Presence of God? The Lord desires still to be in His holy temple, wherever we are; for each of us is a temple in whom dwells the Holy Spirit of God!

Lord, I want all the rooms in my temple to be clean not only for Your abiding Presence but also to be a shining testimony to those I encounter during the week.[1][1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 4, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

Humility

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (4:10)

As has been noted several times previously in this commentary volume, humility is actually the starting point and summary of salvation as far as the human response is concerned. The first Beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit [the humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). Earlier in this passage, James has declared that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (4:6).

Tapeinoō (humble yourselves) means literally to make low. Here it means to make oneself low, not in the self-put-downs that many people use in order to induce others to build them up, but in a genuine realization of complete unworthiness and lostness because of sin. As the penitent sinner submits to God and draws closer to Him, like Isaiah he cries out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). The more an unbeliever sees God as He really is, glorious and holy, the more clearly he sees himself as he really is, sinful and depraved. Even Peter was overwhelmed and terrified when He saw Jesus miraculously fill their nets with fish, crying out, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). Later the disciples became even more fearful of Jesus for stilling the storm than they had been of the storm itself, “saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’ ” (8:25).

God has always honored those who are spiritually humble. The Lord testified to Solomon: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). The psalmist praised the Lord, saying, “You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear” (Ps. 10:17). Through Isaiah God promised, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 57:15).

Jesus made clear that “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Again, the prodigal is the perfect example of contrite humility. When he came to his senses in the far country, he said to himself, “I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men’ ” (Luke 15:18–19). When he returned home and expressed that sincere contrition, “the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found’ ” (Luke 15:22–24).

That is a picture of the way in which God gives His “greater grace” (James 4:6) to those who come into the presence of the Lord in repentance and humility. He will exalt them lavishly.

It is of that gracious exaltation that Paul speaks in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. (Eph. 1:3–7)

More even than that, our loving heavenly Father has “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6).[1]


10 James wraps up the unit by reiterating the call for humility reflected earlier (v. 6) in his quote of Proverbs 3:34: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” The value of humility as the right path to exaltation is widely published in the OT, but the most immediate backdrop for James is the teaching of Jesus, who said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11; cf. Mt 23:12; Lk 18:14). The thought is echoed in the writings of the early church (e.g., 1 Pe 5:6; see Moo, 196), due in no small measure to the example of the Lord himself, who lived a life of perfect submission to the Father in the face of suffering and was exalted as a result (Heb 2:9; Php 2:5–11). This forms a cornerstone of the Lord’s upside-down value system, which governs the kingdom. The way “up” is “down”; the path of freedom is submission; the road to joy is walked in mourning and with tears. Yet the end result is grace. The Lord lifts those who, recognizing their sin, repent, bowing before him in submission.[2]


4:10 / Finally, there is hope; as they humble [themselves] before the Lord, truly regretting their sin, God’s acceptance is sure: God will lift you up (cf. 4:6). The picture is that of someone prostrate before an oriental monarch, begging mercy. The monarch leans down from the throne and lifts the petitioner’s face from the dust. The person rises with grateful joy, knowing he or she is forgiven. This metaphor occurs in the Old Testament for God’s action in restoring the fortunes of the poor: “The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety” (Job 5:11). God also will not reject these Christians, if they repent and reject their sin.

James concludes his section on the tongue, wisdom, and the evil impulse with a final exhortation, which focuses on the nature of the repentance he has previously demanded.[3]


4:10. This final appeal contains both a command and a promise. To become humble before God demands a voluntary turning to God (see the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:12). The picture is that of a person who falls prostrate before a powerful oriental ruler, seeking mercy.

If we look at ourselves from our own perspective, we will invariably either be flattering or hopelessly pessimistic about ourselves. When we respond with insight provided by the Holy Spirit, we see our unworthiness; but we also sense God’s ability to forgive us and receive us. Those who truly humble themselves before the Lord will experience his exaltation and elevation. This “lifting up” involves moral and spiritual power to live this life. It may also provide hopeful encouragement about our glorious future in heaven (1 Pet. 5:6).[4]


10 ταπεινώγητε ἐνώπιον κυρίου ὑψώσει ὑμᾶς, “Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence, and he will raise you up.” This verse picks up and completes the thought of 4:8: there are enduring results for those who submit to God. For those “who humble themselves before the Lord” (see 4:6 and its reference to Prov 3:34) the promise is that God will lift them up (ὑψοῦν). Such a reversal is a well-known Jewish-rabbinic teaching (Job 5:11; 22:29; Ps 149:4; Prov 29:25; Ezek 17:24; 21:31; cf. Sir 2:17; 3:18; T. Jos. 10.3; 18.1; 1QH 3.20; 15.16) and also reflects early church thought (see Luke 18:14 at the close of the parable of Pharisee and penitent sinner; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Pet 5:6). See Introduction. The point is that humility before God is the only way to true joy. Humility—that state of total dependence on God—is foreign to “the world.” To seek to be exalted by the world is dangerous, as well as futile (see 1:9–11). But to humble oneself before God is to await his eschatological reversal and to look to him for his intervention (Luke 14:11). Such is the way of the Christian life for the author, who is consciously adopting a stance of the Jewish apocalyptists in their time of trial.

The grammatical construction with καὶ linking two verbs is Semitic. See on 4:7 (with reference to Beyer, Semitische Syntax, 252–53): the idea is “as you humble yourselves, so the Lord will exalt you.”[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 213–215). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 256–257). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (p. 104). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 322). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Martin, R. P. (1998). James (Vol. 48, p. 155). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

December 4: HOLINESS AND WORSHIP COME BEFORE POWER

…He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

GALATIANS 6:8

To teach that the filling with the Holy Spirit is given the Christian to provide “power for service” is to teach truth, but not the whole truth!

Power for service is but one effect of the experience, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the least of several effects. Contrary to the popular belief, “to serve this present age” is not the Christian’s first duty nor the chief end of man.

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration. To accomplish this He first reveals Christ to the penitent heart (1 Cor. 12:3). He then goes on to illuminate the newborn soul with brighter rays from the face of Christ (John 14:26; 16:13–15) and leads the willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion. Remember, we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us and we have only as much of Him as the Holy Spirit imparts!

God wants worshipers before workers; indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the lost art of worship. It is inconceivable that a sovereign and holy God should be so hard up for workers that He would press into service anyone who had been empowered regardless of his moral qualifications. The very stones would praise Him if the need arose and a thousand legions of angels would leap to do His will!

Gifts and power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart; but holiness and spiritual worship come first![1][1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.