Daily Archives: December 11, 2017

December 11 Christ Is Superior to Angels

“… having become … much better than the angels” (Heb. 1:4).

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Through a deft use of the Old Testament, the writer proves that Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant.

Man is a wonderful and amazing creation—higher than plants, animals, and any other material creation in this world. But there are created beings even higher than man—angels.

Hebrews 2:9 shows this to be the case because when Jesus became a man, He was “made for a little while lower than the angels.” After the fall of the rebellious angels under Lucifer, the angels in Heaven were no longer able to choose sin. These angels are holy, powerful, and wise. They are special beings created by God before He created man.

The Jewish people understood the exalted position of angels because they knew that the Old Covenant was brought to men and maintained by angelic mediation. Galatians 3:19 says, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.”

Because of this high regard for angels by his readers, the writer of Hebrews was faced with a problem. If he was to show that Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, he would have to prove that Christ is better than angels. To do so, he used seven Old Testament passages to verify his claim.

If he had tried to prove from Christian writings that Christ is a better mediator, his unbelieving Jewish readers would have said, “We don’t accept these writings as being from God.” So in effect he wisely replies, “Open up your own Scriptures, and I’ll prove my claim from them.” This results in a powerful and irresistible argument.

For the next several days, we’ll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Because much of our understanding of the New Testament is based on the writings of the Old Testament, thank God for how He has brought His complete Word to us intact throughout the centuries.

For Further Study: Read Galatians 3:8, Romans 9:15, and Matthew 4:4. What Old Testament verses do those passages quote? What truth does each of them verify?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 358). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 11, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

An explosive detonated near New York City’s Times Square subway station Monday morning, sending ambulances racing through Midtown and commuters fleeing. Three people, including the suspect, were injured, police said. The Associated Press reported that the suspect had an explosive device strapped on when it exploded, without citing a source.

President Vladimir Putin flew to Russia’s airbase in Syria and declared “victory” in its two-year military campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, as he issued an order to begin withdrawing forces from the war-torn country.

Saudi Arabia will allow public cinemas for the first time in more than 35 years, the latest religiously-inspired restriction to fall as the kingdom strives to overhaul the economy.

Egypt and Russia signed a $30 billion deal to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant as the Kremlin moves to expand its influence in the region.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a chance to decide whether the main federal job-bias law bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Bitcoin has landed on Wall Street. Futures on the world’s most popular cryptocurrency surged as much as 26 percent in their debut session on Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s exchange, triggering two temporary trading halts designed to calm the market. Initial volume exceeded dealers’ expectations, while traffic on Cboe’s website was so heavy that it caused delays and temporary outages. The website’s problems had no impact on trading systems, Cboe said.

Wall Street economists are telling investors to brace for the biggest tightening of monetary policy in more than a decade. With the world economy heading into its strongest period since 2011, Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. predict average interest rates across advanced economies will climb to at least 1 percent next year in what would be the largest increase since 2006.

The world’s largest container shipping line says international freight rates are reversing after climbing for most of this year, raising questions about the sustainability of the global trade recovery.

AP Top Stories

New evacuation orders were issued for more areas in Santa Barbara County as the 230,000-acre Thomas Fire continued on its destructive path.

The French and Israeli leaders sparred verbally Sunday over the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while new violence rippled across the region following the move by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Officials with the federal government say it’s time to consider the possibility that endangered right whales could become extinct unless new steps are taken to protect them.

Health officials have confirmed a norovirus outbreak at North Carolina State University after the school says about 60 students have shown symptoms of the illness.

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, has alerted the Federal Aviation Administration that it’s planning to put a brand-new New Shepard rocket ship through an uncrewed flight test at its West Texas spaceport this week.

Total nuclear destruction is “only one impulsive tantrum away,” this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner warned while accepting the award for an international anti-nuclear weapons campaign.

The Rev. William Aitcheson, a former Ku Klux Klan member who burned a cross on a black couple’s lawn 40 years ago, before becoming a Roman Catholic priest, has finally written his victims an apology.

Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday for the second consecutive week against government corruption and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under criminal investigation over allegations of abuse of office.

Pope Francis on Sunday called on world leaders to work in favor of nuclear disarmament to protect human rights, particularly those of weaker and underprivileged people.

Donald Trump’s administration is facing a lawsuit for permitting oil companies to dump fracking waste into the Gulf of Mexico.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin made its debut on a major bourse Sunday, opening at $15,000 per unit at the Chicago board options exchange. Around 23:20 GMT, the price of the currency had risen to $15,940 dollars on a futures contract scheduled for settlement on January 17 according to data provided by the CBOE.

Qatar signed a multi-billion-dollar deal Sunday to buy 24 Typhoon fighters from Britain, its second major defense agreement this week, which comes during the worst political crisis in the region for years.

BBC

The small city of Minas in Uruguay has set a new Guinness world record by hosting the largest barbecue ever. Almost 200 cooks used 60 tons of wood to fire up their gigantic barbecue on which they grilled 16.5 tons of raw meat for a total of 14 hours.

As the first same-sex couples began registering for marriage in Australia, one woman was exercising another new right – being allowed to divorce.

Archaeologists in Egypt have displayed items, including a mummy, from one of two previously unexplored tombs in the ancient Nile city of Luxor.

WND

A teacher is suing his secondary school after being sacked for calling a transgender boy a ‘girl’. Joshua Sutcliffe, who worked at the school for two years, claimed he misgendered the pupil by accident, and was shocked when the boy’s parents complained.

Five months before North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, U.S. intelligence officials sent a report to Congress warning that secret work also was underway on a biological weapon. The communist regime, which had long ago acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax, had assembled teams of scientists but seemed to be lacking in certain technical skills.


The Briefing —Monday, December 11, 2017

1) The moral mayhem of last week in Congress

WSJ (Editors) –
Al Franken’s Non Sequitur

WSJ (Peggy Noonan) –
Al Franken Departs Without Grace

New York Times (Gail Collins) –
The Great Al Franken Moment

2) Our brave new world of political morality

New York Times (Katie Rogers) –
Trent Franks, Accused of Offering $5 Million to Aide for Surrogacy, Resigns

3) Why Christians should be deeply troubled by surrogate parenting

National Review (Jennifer Lahl) –
The Pro-Life Movement Shouldn’t Embrace Surrogacy

4) Very nature of New Testament as the Word of God at stake in Pope’s proposal to change the Lord’s prayer


Headlines – 12/11/2017

Washington Post (Julie Zauzmer and Stefano Pitrelli) –
‘Lead us not into’ what? Pope Francis suggests changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

New York Times (Elisabetta Povoledo, Laurie Goodstein, and Alan Cowell) –
Lost in Translation? Pope Ponders an Update to Lord’s Prayer

AI is now so complex its creators can’t trust why it makes decisions
But there’s a core problem with this technology, whether it’s being used in social media or for the Mars rover: The programmers that built it don’t know why AI makes one decision over another. “In order for machine learning models to be accepted by society, we’re going to need to know why they’re making the decisions they’re making.”

Netanyahu to EU: Recognition of Jerusalem as Capital Makes Peace Possible
In remarks to leading members of the European Union, PM Netanyahu said that recognizing the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is the only way to make peace with the Palestinians. (VIDEO)

Strong earthquake swarm ongoing in Skjaldbreið shield volcano
At the moment the number of earthquakes recorded is at 100 and that number is going to increase as this earthquake swarm continues, number of earthquakes happening has dropped considerably for the last few hours. This is the first large earthquake swarm in Skjaldbreið since 1992 according to Icelandic Met Office records

China weaponizing social media ‘to infiltrate European parliaments’ – German spy agency
China’s spy agency created fake LinkedIn profiles to infiltrate German and European political circles, claims Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). China denies the allegations, saying they risk undermining bilateral relations. Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV, alleges that the Chinese dummy accounts posed as consultants, policy experts, scholars and headhunters and targeted up to 10,000 German citizens.

Explosion on Manhattan subway, multiple injuries
Police report ‘some type of explosion’ near Times Square, trains being evacuated. Multiple injuries reported. Possible suspect in custody.

The MIddle East ‘Peace Process’ meme: What peace process?
Now that he formally has announced that the United States of America fully recognizes Jerusalem as the undisputed capital of the country of Israel, President Donald Trump once again has proven that he is the first American President since Ronald Reagan who actually fulfills campaign promises he made to the American people who elected him. And now he has fulfilled his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the country of Israel. So, while other experts debate the meme, let us share a secret: There is no Middle East “peace process” and there has not been a “Middle East peace process” for decades. It is a sham.

Weary firefighters brace for second week battling California wildfire
Crews battling a massive wind-driven California wildfire that has torched nearly 800 buildings and charred 230,000 acres are bracing on Monday to protect communities menaced by flames along the state’s scenic coastline.

North Korea pushing for biological weapons factories, analysts say
U.S. analysts have raised concerns over North Korea’s potential to pursue an industrial-scale production of biological pathogens it could use to threaten neighbors and U.S. troops, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The report, citing U.S. and Asian intelligence officials, said Pyongyang is moving forward to access machinery to use in the program and “factories that can produce microbes by the ton.”

Santa Barbara Evacuates As Uncontained 230,000 Acre Thomas Fire Becomes Fifth Largest In State History
Santa Barbara officials expanded evacuations Sunday as the Thomas Fire continues to rage through the Southern alifornia county – burning over 230,000 acres to make it the fifth largest in the state since California began keeping records in 1932. Overall, approximately 8,500 firefighters are battling six wildfires across Southern California.

Welcome To The Hell Hole That Is Brussels
If you penetrate the thick cloud of professional indignation to scrutinize the reality of the “capital of Europe”, what you see in many respects is actually a hell hole, one where socialism, Islamism, riots and looting are the new normal.

Putin, on surprise visit, orders Russian forces to start leaving Syria
President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces in Syria to start withdrawing, saying that after a two year military campaign, Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying ISIS. Putin made the announcement during a surprise visit to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria’s Latakia Province where he held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and addressed Russian military servicemen.

Netanyahu in Brussels: Recognizing Jerusalem as capital can promote peace
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the EU on Monday not to put forth a peace plan of its own, but rather to wait and see what the Americans will offer, and work on that. Netanyahu’s comments came during comments he and EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini gave before a breakfast meeting with all 28 EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Bahraini delegation visits Jerusalem to ‘talk about peace’
A 25-member Bahraini delegation is on a visit to Jerusalem in a small but significant move towards normalizing relations between Israel and the tiny Gulf monarchy. Although the group does not include any governmental officials, its arrival on Saturday for a five-day visit makes good on a pledge by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to allow his citizens to travel freely to Israel, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper…

Why North Korea’s nuclear test is still producing aftershocks
North Korea’s nuclear test in September didn’t just generate diplomatic shockwaves but also a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Aftershocks have continued ever since, and on Saturday the US Geological Survey said it had detected two more, sparking significant debate about what might be going on underground.

HP laptops found to have hidden keylogger
Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models. Security researcher Michael Myng found the keylogging code in software drivers preinstalled on HP laptops to make the keyboard work. HP said more than 460 models of laptop were affected by the “potential security vulnerability”.

Israel says it destroyed Hamas tunnel using new techniques
The Israeli military on Sunday said it has destroyed a tunnel built by the Hamas militant group that stretched from the Gaza Strip several hundred meters (yards) into Israeli territory, declaring a breakthrough in its war against underground threats from the Palestinian enclave…Conricus said a new system involving combat units, military intelligence, logistics and research had been used to destroy the tunnel.

Monsanto offers cash to U.S. farmers who use controversial chemical
Monsanto Co will give cash back to U.S. farmers who buy a weed killer that has been linked to widespread crop damage… The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip, a herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to company data.

Microbes by the ton: Officials see weapons threat as North Korea gains biotech expertise
Five months before North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, U.S. intelligence officials sent a report to Congress warning that secret work also was underway on a biological weapon. The communist regime, which had long ago acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax, had assembled teams of scientists but seemed to be lacking in certain technical skills, the report said.

WATCH: 300 landmines detonated in Golan Heights
The Landmines Removal Agency detonated a chain of 300 landmines in the Golan Heights in a controlled explosion at noon on Monday. This was the biggest explosion thus far in the Ministry of Defense’s current campaign to clear the Golan Heights of landmines. The campaign began in August and is expected to last three years at a cost of tens of millions of shekels.

Ancient pagan ‘gods’ reappearing around U.S., world
The same group that recreated the Roman triumphal arch that once welcomed travelers to the Temple of Baal is now honoring another pagan deity. The United Arab Emirates, the Italian mission to the United Nations and the Institute for Digital Archeology have re-created a statue of the goddess Athena which once stood in Palmyra, according to Breaking Israel News.

Trump’s Jerusalem declaration sparks talk of 3rd Temple
While Muslims jeer, Israelis cheer President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, prompting Jewish religious activists to suggest building the Third Temple is closer to reality than ever before. “What he did … was an enormous step in bringing the Temple,” said Asaf Fried, official spokesman for the United Temple Movement, an association of organizations working towards making the Third Temple a reality.

“CAN’T MAKE IT UP”: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Serves Obama The Stone Cold Truth About The TRUMP ECONOMY
Former President Barack Obama wants Americans to believe the U.S.’s sunny economic outlook is thanks to his administration’s policies. In a speech this week in Chicago, Obama took full credit for President Trump’s record economic numbers.

Obama-Appointed Judge: Salvation Army—Not Catholic Church—Can Advertise on D.C.’s Metro
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, issued an opinion  on Saturday permitting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to ban an advertisement by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., while allowing one by the Salvation Army, which, like the archdiocese, is also a Christian organization.

DNA Testing Companies Like 23andme Admit Adding Fake African Ancestry To White Profiles In Order To “Screw With Racists”
Who were your ancestors? What is your ethnic background composed of? Sites like Ancestry.com and 23andme have always been some go to sources in answering all of your toughest questions. But how accurate are they? In a recent interview with Cracked, one of the major ancestry testing companies, (which specific company is unknown) spilled the beans on what really happens when you purchase an ancestry kit. While I can’t say I’m surprised, you may be shocked to learn that these ancestry sites aren’t always as accurate as they claim to be. Beyond this, they’ve also admitted to tampering with the result to “screw with racists”.

Pentagon To Undergo First Ever Audit Amid Missing Trillions
After decades of waste, overpayments, trillions of missing or improperly accounted for dollars, and most recently losing track of 44,000 US soldiers, the Pentagon is about to undergo its first audit in history conducted by 2,400 auditors from independent public accounting firms to conduct reviews across the Army, Navy, Air Force and more – followed by annual audits going forward.

Charity Amnesty International Ordered To Return Donation From George Soros
Humanitarian charity Amnesty International has been ordered by the State’s ethics watchdog to return a donation from Billionaire globalist George Soros. The donation from Soros was to help the charity fund its campaign to overturn Ireland’s abortion ban.

California governor blames devastating wildfires on climate change
California’s governor has said that deadly wildfires in the winter will be ‘the new normal’, as fire crews rushed to contain the fires, with dry desert winds expected to intensify over the weekend.

These 8 Places Around The World Are Actively Preparing For Nuclear War
Tensions are high in practically every corner of the world, but somehow, despite the proliferation of imminent threats, many people are still blithely unaware of the hell that could be unleashed.


Bitcoin Futures Begin Trading – Let The Madness Commence!

One of the things that I love about Bitcoin is that the fun never seems to end.  On Sunday, Bitcoin futures began trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange for the first time ever, and within minutes the CBOE’s website crashed.  What a perfect metaphor.  Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are completely and utterly disrupting the global financial system, and the financial establishment is still groping for a cohesive response to this growing phenomenon. (Read More…)

Mid-Day Snapshot

Dec. 11, 2017

CNN’s Blinders Cause More Fake News

It’s a cycle — false reporting only leads to more mistrust of the mainstream media.

The Foundation

“During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.” —Thomas Jefferson (1805)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: December 11

  • Hotly anticipated bitcoin futures ease off after 22 percent surge (Read More)
  • Bitcoin Futures Debut With 26% Rally, Trigger Cboe Trading Halts (Read More)
  • Powell faces early test of policy view as tax cuts near approval (Read More)
  • Small Investors Face Higher Taxes Under Senate Proposal (Read More)
  • US, Japan and South Korea host joint missile tracking drills (Read More)
  • Bakers, farmers struggle to make any dough on poor wheat crop (Read More)
  • Fund Managers’ Great 2017 Comeback Almost Blew Up (Read More)
  • Hospital Giants in Talks to Create U.S.’s Largest Operator (Read More)
  • Catalan protesters clash with police over ‘plunder’ of religious artefacts (Read More)
  • EU tells Netanyahu no support for Trump’s Jerusalem move (Read More)
  • Another Sign of Frothy Markets: Blank-Check Boom (Read More)
  • Small Banks, Big Worry (Read More)
  • The Middle Class Might Not Even Notice If the GOP Cuts Their Taxes (Read More)
  • Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea drills (Read More)
  • Palestinian stabs Israeli in Jerusalem; anti-Trump protest flares in Beirut (Read More)
  • A Fight in Afghanistan That America Is Winning (Read More)
  • Investors Told to Brace for Steepest Rate Hikes Since 2006 (Read More)
  • U.S. citizen on the run after busting out of Bali prison (Read More)
  • Mobile-Wireless Offers Insight Into Post Net-Neutrality World (Read More)

Headlines – 12/11/2017

Still seeking peace in Jerusalem 100 years since Britain’s victory

Erdogan: Israel has been ‘occupying’ the Palestinian people’s hundreds-of-years-old homeland

PFLP: Cancel the Oslo Accords – terrorist group says Trump’s decision on Jerusalem destroyed the possibility of implementing the two-state solution.

Macron tells Netanyahu that US recognition of Jerusalem is threat to peace

Netanyahu faces pressure in Europe amid Jerusalem protests

Jerusalem: Netanyahu expects EU to follow US recognition

Netanyahu in Brussels: Israel is preventing the spread of radical Islam to Europe

Palestinian reconciliation hits ‘obstacles’ on deadline, Fatah says

Egypt’s Sisi invites Palestinian president to Cairo to discuss Trump’s Jerusalem move

Israel, Turkey leaders trade insults over US Jerusalem decision

Netanyahu slams Turkey’s Erdogan for claiming Israel is ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’

Implementation of US decision on Jerusalem will not be easy, says Erdogan

Hardline Indonesian Muslim groups burn US, Israeli flags over Trump’s Jerusalem move

US seeks to quell global outrage over Jerusalem: ‘The sky hasn’t fallen’

Pope warns of Jerusalem ‘spiral of violence’

White House: unfortunate that Palestinians declined meeting with Pence

Hamas: ‘The enemy will pay the price of breaking rules of engagement with Gazan resistance’

Israel says it destroyed Hamas tunnel using new techniques

Lieberman: World is interested in our anti-tunnel technology

American diplomat: US looking to counter Iran in post-war Iraq

In landmark move, Saudi Arabia to issue cinema licenses in early 2018

Egypt to sign contracts for nuclear power plant during Putin’s visit

North Korea is hacking bitcoin exchanges as currency value soars, expert says

South Korea imposes new sanctions on North Korea

Microbes by the ton: Officials see weapons threat as North Korea gains biotech expertise

US, S. Korea, Japan start missile-tracking drill

Nobel Peace Prize winners warn nuclear war is ‘a tantrum away’

House gavel with impeachment power up for grabs

CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ Turns Network’s Colossal Screwup Into An Attack On Trump

Danske Bank’s Wealth Management Robot Now Has 11,500 Clients

Meet Your New Boss: An Algorithm

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Tadine, New Caledonia

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 18,000ft

Fuego volano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Sinabung volcnao in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

It’s so cold outside that it snowed in Florida

New evacuations as huge Southern California fire flares up

California wildfire rages toward scenic coastal communities

California Gov. Jerry Brown suggests on climate change, Trump doesn’t fear ‘the Lord’ or ‘the wrath of God’

Millions gained coverage since Obamacare, but many are worse off as premiums soar

Plasma For Pay: Broke Millennials Sell Blood Just To Survive

Nikki Haley: women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct ‘should be heard’

Support for Israel from younger evangelicals dropping

Mike Ratliff – Are we in the midst of God’s wrath of abandonment?

James White Embraces Brotherhood with NAR Apologist, Michael Brown

Reclaiming the 7 Mountains – is it dominionism?

North Carolina steps in on child abuse cases involving Word of Faith Fellowship

Pope Francis’ Claims Angel’s Greeting to Mary as Being ‘Full of Grace’ Meant She Was Without Sin

Founder of nation’s largest Christian music festival charged with child molestation

This Has Been The Worst Year For California Wildfires In The History Of The State

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 05:52 AM PST

This Has Been The Worst Year For California Wildfires In The History Of The State(By Michael Snyder) We have never seen a year like this in the history of the state of California. Yes, there are large wildfires in California every year, but this is one for the record books. Well over half a million acres have already been burned, and we still have three weeks remaining in 2017. At this moment, the fires that have absolutely ravaged Ventura County for the past seven days are moving into Santa Barbara County, and at this point no end to the crisis is in sight.   It would be hard to overstate the devastation that has been caused by these fires in recent months.

One climatologist even used the term “apocalyptic conditions” to describe what he has been witnessing. The following comes from the Los Angeles Daily News… From Jan. 1 to Dec. 3, there were 6,762 fires that destroyed 505,391 acres. That’s 43 percent more events for the same time period last year, when 244,297 acres were destroyed, according to Cal Fire. “Fuel. Ignition. Meteorology. Each component of the formula are off the charts this year,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “When all three elements in the equation are supersized, you’re set up for apocalyptic conditions.” READ MORE

Putin orders withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 05:44 AM PST

Putin orders withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria. He gave the command during a surprise visit to Khmeimim Airbase in Syria’s Latakia province on Monday morning. A “significant part” of the Russian military contingent in Syria should return to Russia, Putin announced, addressing Russian military personnel at Khmeimim. The order to withdraw followed the defeat of “the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists” by the Russian and Syrianmilitaries in the space of two years. As he arrived at the base, which houses Russian forces assisting Syria in the battle against Islamic State terrorists (IS, formerly ISIS), the Russian president was greeted by his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, and by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, in a brief stop on his (President Putin’s) way to bilateral talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, followed by a meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. READ MORE

US, Japan and S. Korea launch two-day ‘missile tracking’ drills

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 05:37 AM PST

US, Japan and S. Korea launch two-day ‘missile tracking’ drillsWashington, Seoul and Tokyo have have begun joint “missile tracking” drills, South Korea’s military said. The new round of military exercises comes just days after the US and its allies concluded the largest ever air maneuvers over the peninsula. The exercises kicked off Monday amid speculation that North Korea may soon test launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), South Korea’s military

announced, according to the Yonhap news agency. Two US Aegis destroyers – USS Stethem and USS Decatur – are leading the war games along with South Korea’s Seoae Ryu Seong Ryong Aegis destroyer, and Japan’s Chokai Aegis vessel. During the exercises, the three navies aim to polish their skills at detecting and tracking potential ballistic missiles using a computer-simulated training module. READ MORE

Netanyahu cites Bible to justify Trump’s Jerusalem move, urges EU to follow suit

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 05:34 AM PST

Netanyahu cites Bible to justify Trump’s Jerusalem move, urges EU to follow suitFollowing Donald Trump’s controversial Jerusalem move, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has told EU leaders there is no other place for the capital – and that the Bible proves it. As protests continue, he also urged the Palestinians to embrace “reality.”  During his visit to Brussels on Monday, Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate its embassy, saying that it was based on the recognition of reality. The controversial decision triggered

protests in the Middle East and across the globe, and was met with international condemnation. Nonetheless, the Israeli Prime Minister said that the decision promotes peace, and called on EU states and the Palestinians to follow suit. “It makes peace possible because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace,” Netanyahu told reporters prior to a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Explosion reported in New York City’s Port Authority during morning rush

Posted: 11 Dec 2017 05:10 AM PST

DEVELOPING: Explosion reported in New York City’s Port Authority during morning rushPolice are responding to reports of an explosion near New York City’s Port Authority during Monday morning’s rush hour, prompting evacuations on multiple subway lines. NYPD and the FDNY confirmed to Fox News they are investigating reports of an explosion “of an unknown origin” near 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.

Police tweeted A, C, E subways lines are being evacuated. It’s unclear if there are any injuries at this time. Several people wrote on social media there was mass chaos at the bus terminal, some saying there was a “stampede” when an explosion was heard. NYC Office of Emergency Management also tweeted there was “police activity” near West 42nd Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues and advised commuters to expect delays.  READ MORE

Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound?

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 08:09 PM PST

Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound?(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, we will dig deeper in the understanding of the new life and walk of a believer after their conversion to Christ and why we must be aware of the attempt to distort the true message of Grace in the Church today.

SPREADING: California wildfire rages toward scenic coastal communities

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 07:47 PM PST

SPREADING: California wildfire rages toward scenic coastal communitiesA raging wildfire pushed toward a string of California coastal cities on Sunday, prompting new evacuations as crews fought to save homes in the face of gusty winds that have fueled blazes across the state for nearly a week. Authorities ordered residents in parts of Carpinteria and Montecito to leave early on Sunday as the Thomas Fire edged closer to Santa Barbara, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Los Angeles on the scenic central California coast. The blaze, the worst of six major fires in Southern

California in the last week and already the 10th largest on record in the state since 1932, has blackened 173,000 acres (62,726 hectares), destroyed hundreds of structures and left nearly 90,000 homes and businesses without power. The combination of Santa Ana winds and rugged terrain in the mountains that run through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have hampered firefighting efforts, and officials said the Thomas Fire was only 15 percent contained on Sunday. READ MORE

British & Canadian Families Denied Adoption For Christian Views On Homosexuality

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 07:42 PM PST

British & Canadian Families Denied Adoption For Christian Views On HomosexualityRecent cases of British and Canadian families that were denied permission to adopt show that the war gender radicals are waging on Christianity increasingly targets families. In several recent high-profile cases, Christian families holding mainstream Biblical views on homosexuality were rejected for adoption solely due to their beliefs that children should be raised by both a mother and a father and that the choice to live a homosexual lifestyle is fraught with risk. A husband and wife in the UK (their names withheld from the media), who have biological children of their own, had opened their family to foster

children for years. As they continued to act as loving foster parents for a happy family, they were informed by a social worker that a homosexual couple was seeking to adopt their foster children. The foster parents expressed their concern and only two days later applied again to adopt the children. Still focused on the best interests of the children, they believed that to uproot them from the loving family bonds they had formed were do more harm than good. They are reported to have said, “We want to look after them. We want to adopt them; we love them. READ MORE

 

Egypt’s Coptic Leader Cancels Pence Meeting Over Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 07:35 PM PST

Egypt’s Coptic Leader Cancels Pence Meeting Over Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s CapitalEgypt’s Coptic Church said Saturday its leader, Pope Tawadros II, will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the latter’s visit to Cairo this month, citing President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Coptic Church said in a statement that it has “excused itself from hosting Mike Pence” due to Washington’s move “at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people,” according to Times of Israel.

“The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church declines to receive American Vice President Mike Pence,” it said, adding it would pray for “wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East.” The Trump administration has voiced concerns over the ongoing persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt at the hands of Islamist terrorists and others. On Friday, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Al-Azhar Islamic seminary, also declared he will not meet Pence. READ MORE

3 Dallas Cowboys Give Their Life to Jesus and Share Video of Their Baptisms

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 07:22 PM PST

3 Dallas Cowboys Give Their Life to Jesus and Share Video of Their BaptismsDallas Cowboys chaplain Jonathan Evans, son of Dr. Tony Evans and a former NFL fullback took to Social Media on Wednesday to share footage of three NFL players openly accepting Jesus Christ as savior and getting baptized.  “It was an honor to baptize 3 Dallas Cowboys who identify themselves as Christ-followers first,” Evans wrote on his Facebook page sharing a video of the event along with the hashtags “Identity In Christ” and “Cowboy Nation.” The athletes getting baptized were Kavon Frazier, 23, Anthony Hitchens, 25, and Justin March-Lillard, 24.

Upon entering the pool, the team minister quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore those who are in Christ are a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come,” Evans told the entire team as they watch the baptismal service. “Baptism is just an external expression about an internal reality,” Evans explained to those standing around the pool. “Going under the water means he died with Christ and coming back up means he’s resurrected to the newness of life.” FULL STORY

Ancient pagan ‘gods’ are reappearing around US and the world

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 07:14 PM PST

Ancient pagan ‘gods’ are reappearing around US and the worldThe same group that recreated the Roman triumphal arch that once welcomed travelers to the Temple of Baal is now honoring another pagan deity.  The United Arab Emirates, the Italian mission to the United Nations and the Institute for Digital Archeology have re-created a statue of the goddess Athena which once stood in Palmyra, according to Breaking Israel News.  Though Athena was venerated as a goddess

of reason, she was also known as “Athena Promachos,” a war goddess, and the re-created statue features her holding a spear. The exhibit, titled “The Spirit In the Stone,” is being hosted at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. It’s another move by globalist organizations to honor pagan deities, months after the reconstructed “Arch of Baal” went on a world tour, including being placed outside the G7 meeting of the world’s industrialized nations.  READ MORE

 

 

Russia may turn to cryptocurrencies in oil trade to challenge sanctions & the petrodollar

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 01:31 PM PST

Russia may turn to cryptocurrencies in oil trade to challenge sanctions & the petrodollarThe gradual acceptance of digital currencies, with major exchanges about to launch bitcoin futures trading, may prompt some oil producing nations to ditch the US dollar in crude trade in favor of cryptocurrencies, an oil analyst says.  Russia, Iran and Venezuela have more than one thing in common. All three are major oil-producing nations dependent on the dollar since the global crude market is

traditionally dominated by contracts denominated in US currency. Moscow, Tehran and Caracas are also facing US sanctions; penalties which are proving effective since the sanctioned countries are dependent on the US dollar to sell their crude. A decentralized currency – allowing anonymous transactions along with blockchain technology support to facilitate oil contracts – may be the ideal tool to allow the oil-producing trio to turn their back on the greenback. READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: US will take North Korea ‘into our own hands’ if China doesn’t do more

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 01:24 PM PST

RUMORS OF WAR: US will take North Korea ‘into our own hands’ if China doesn’t do moreChina must to do more to counter North Korea or the US will take things “into our own hands,” America’s Ambassador to the UN has said.  Nikky Haley told Fox News Sunday that Beijing and the rest of the international community are following through with sanctions against Pyongyang for developing its nuclear weapons programme. She then commended Washington for leading the charge. “But to be

clear, China can do more,” Haley said. “And we’re putting as much pressure on them as we can. The last time they completely cut off the oil, North Korea came to the table. And so we’ve told China they’ve got to do more. If they don’t do more, we’re going to take it into our own hands and then we’ll start to deal with secondary sanctions.” READ MORE

CUP OF TREMBLING: Mideast Tensions at Boiling Point in Wake of U.S. Shift in Israel Policy

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 01:09 PM PST

CUP OF TREMBLING: Mideast Tensions at Boiling Point in Wake of U.S. Shift in Israel PolicyPockets of anger surfaced Sunday in the Middle East and Asia over the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but predictions of widespread upheaval failed to materialize as riots petered out in the Palestinian territories.  In a sign of festering regional dissent, protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on Sunday, with Lebanese security forces firing tear gas and water

cannons at demonstrators. Protesters carried Palestinian flags and set fire to tires near the embassy but the unrest had largely calmed by late afternoon. The decision by the White House last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there from Tel Aviv was widely condemned in Lebanon, which hosts about half a million Palestinian refugees—representing roughly 10% of the country’s population. READ MORE

CUP OF TREMBLING: Erdogan calls Israel ‘terrorist state’

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 12:54 PM PST

CUP OF TREMBLING: Erdogan calls Israel ‘terrorist state’Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described Israel as a “terrorist state” and vowed to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital. “Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan said in a speech in the central city of Sivas.  “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.” His speech came days after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,

angering Palestinians and sparking protests in Muslim and Arab countries. Four Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in violence following the US announcement. Rockets were fired from Gaza and Israeli warplanes carried out raids on the territory. Erdogan earlier described the status of Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims. He called Trump’s declaration “null and void”. READ MORE

3 dead, 480,000 without power, numerous records broken as winter storm hits US South

Posted: 10 Dec 2017 12:49 PM PST

3 dead, 480,000 without power, numerous records broken as winter storm hits US SouthNearly 500,000 people were left without power and three have died as a surprisingly strong early winter storm hit the US South on its way toward the Northeast. The storm dumped rare snow on the Deep South, in many places record-breaking for December. Relatively quiet weather is expected across much of the country today as the storm continues to pull away from the Northeast Sunday morning. There is a chance for light snow showers in the Northeast today and tonight but the greatest snowfall accumulations are expected east of lakes Erie and Ontario due to lake effect snow. The storm blanketed

parts of the Deep South this week with up to 46 cm (18 inches) of snow in places, causing traffic chaos and leaving more than 480,000 people without power as of Saturday morning, December 9, 2017. More than 334,000 homes and businesses were still without power Saturday afternoon in Georgia (235,000), Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Over 170,000 woke up Sunday still without power; 125,000 in Georgia, 17,000 in Alabama, another 17,000 in Louisiana and 12 000 in North Carolina. Snow started falling in Houston, Texas on December 8, making it the second earliest snowfall on record. READ MORE

Will God Bless Trump for Moving Our Embassy to Jerusalem?

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 06:14 PM PST

Will God Bless Trump for Moving Our Embassy to Jerusalem?(By Dr. Michael Brown) Ben Shapiro listed 7 reasons why Trump’s decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem is right, calling it “an act of not only political bravery but moral courage.” But is it an act that God Himself will bless? Is there spiritual significance to this decision as well?  Earlier this year, a pastor asked me if there was any way to get a message to the president. With great passion, he said to me, “During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to move the embassy his first day in office, but he didn’t do it. And when did the protest marches against him begin? His second day in office! He will never see the full blessing of God

until he makes good on his promise.” Others believe that Trump’s decision will prove disastrous. As a headline on the Daily Mail proclaims, “’He’s declaring war on 1.5billion Muslims’: Trump will recognize  Jerusalem as Israel’s capital TODAY despite international fury from the Pope, Britain, Russia, China and Palestinians.” In the words of the Palestinian Authority’s Manuel Hassassian, “He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims [and] hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel.”  CONTINUE

 

North Korea rocked by earthquakes after nuclear blast amid fears more tests are on the way

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 05:45 PM PST

North Korea rocked by earthquakes after nuclear blast amid fears more tests are on the wayTwo tremors detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site early on Saturday morning were probably aftershocks from Kim’s huge nuclear blast in September, according to a US Geological Survey (USGS) official.  The 2.9 and 2.4-magnitude aftershocks were detected at 06.13 and 06.40 GMT and a tweet from Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Organisation, revealed analysis’s had confirmed the activity was “tectonic” in origin. The tremors were recorded close to North Korea’s Punggye-Ri nuclear test site in the north-west of the country, close to the border with China. The USGS official explained: “They’re probably relaxation events from the sixth nuclear test.”When you have a large nuclear test, it moves the earth’s crust around the area, and it takes  a while for it to fully subside.  READ MORE

‘Pope Francis’ Claims Angel’s Greeting to Mary as Being ‘Full of Grace’ Meant She Was Without Sin

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 05:36 PM PST

‘Pope Francis’ Claims Angel’s Greeting to Mary as Being ‘Full of Grace’ Meant She Was Without SinIn one of the feasts and celebrations marked on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar leading up to Christmas, Catholics around the world observed the Feast of Immaculate Conception on Friday, a day in which those who follow the religion commemorate their belief that Mary was conceived in her mother Anne’s womb without original sin.  Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, delivered an Angelus

address, during which he claimed that the angel Gabriel’s reference to Mary as being “full of grace” meant that there was no sin in her. Most Bible translations use the phrase “highly favored,” while a few use “full of grace.” Through this wording, Gabriel “reveals the new name which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents,” Bergoglio asserted, according to a report by Vatican Radio.  READ MORE

Atheist group objects to creation of cross memorials at a Georgia high school

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 05:29 PM PST

Atheist group objects to creation of cross memorials at a Georgia high schoolThe nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist organization has expressed objection to the creation of cross memorials at a Georgia high school as part of a city effort to remember fallen soldiers. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter earlier this year to the attorney for Catoosa County Public Schools to assert that the crosses, made at Ringgold High School, were unconstitutional. “We write to request assurances that, in the future, Mr. Elliott nor any other

district employee will include religious messages in student assignments, allow school-sponsored religious activities, or otherwise promote or endorse religion in their official capacities,” it read. The organization also took issue with another school in the district, as it had learned that Heritage High School’s leadership class had partnered with a Christian missions organization to build a school for the poor in Nicaragua. READ MORE

Mysterious hum from deep inside the Earth leaves experts baffled

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 01:36 PM PST

Mysterious hum from deep inside the Earth leaves experts baffledScientists have captured a mysterious hum coming from deep inside the Earth, but they are still no closer to working out what it is. It has long been known that the Earth constantly generates a low-frequency vibrational signal. The first attempt to detect this hum was made in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1998 that scientists finally proved its existence. Since then, there have been hundreds of attempts to record the Earth’s hum, but they have all been made using seismometers on land. Now researchers have

captured the hum for the first time using seismic instruments at the bottom of the sea. The researchers first gathered data from 57 seismometer stations located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, between 2012 and 2013. They then applied a combination of techniques to remove interference from ocean infragravity waves, currents and electronic glitches, and corrected for the signal generated by any earthquakes. READ MORE

U.S. Warns Saudi Arabia on Mideast Actions as Allies’ Ties Fray

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 01:23 PM PST

U.S. Warns Saudi Arabia on Mideast Actions as Allies’ Ties FrayThe Trump administration delivered an unusually blunt warning to Saudi Arabia on Friday, saying the U.S. might curtail its support for Riyadh’s military campaign in Yemen unless the kingdom takes immediate steps to allow more humanitarian aid into the besieged country. In a series of public comments and private conversations in recent weeks, the Trump administration has urged the Saudi-led

coalition fighting in Yemen to lift a blockade on the country to allow food, water, fuel and medicines to reach those in need. The White House stepped up that call on Friday, saying the U.S. is “gravely concerned by the recent escalation in violence and continued dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen.” A senior administration official warned that the situation “could constrain the U.S. if steps aren’t taken” to ease the conditions. READ MORE

PROPHECY WATCH: Turkey Seeking Muslim Coalition To End Occupation of Israel

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 01:10 PM PST

PROPHECY WATCH: Turkey Seeking Muslim Coalition To End Occupation of IsraelTurkey’s leader is seeking to spearhead Islamic reaction to the US declaration on Jerusalem, but it is uncertain if he can coordinate a meaningful response among often disunited Muslim nations. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, had fulminated against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital even before it was officially announced this week.

Erdogan described the status of the city, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims. With Trump disregarding such warnings, the Turkish president used his position as the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the pan-Islamic group. “He is seeking to garner an international response,” said Ziya Meral, resident fellow at the British Army’s Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, READ MORE

CUP OF TREMBLING: Israel airstrikes, Gaza rockets amid tensions over Jerusalem…

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 12:58 PM PST

CUP OF TREMBLING: Israel airstrikes, Gaza rockets amid tensions over Jerusalem…

Two Palestinians were killed Saturday in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, as tensions rose in the region after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said aircraft had targeted what it identified as four facilities belonging to Hamas — the Palestinian Islamist group that controls Gaza — early Saturday in response to rockets fired into southern Israel from Gaza. The aircraft targeted two weapons manufacturing sites, a

weapons warehouse and a military compound, according to an IDF statement. The two Palestinians killed were men, 27 and 30 years old, Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qadra told CNN. The IDF said Israeli aircraft had also struck a Hamas training compound and ammunition warehouse late Friday in Gaza. One of the rockets fired from Gaza landed in the Israeli city of Sderot, according to the IDF. There was no mention of casualties. READ MORE

More Americans Turning To Witchcraft As Traditional Religions Declines…

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 12:53 PM PST

More Americans Turning To Witchcraft As Traditional Religions Declines…The following piece is an excerpt from CBS New York: At a time when participation in traditional religions is declining among Americans, the practice of witchcraft is said to be on the rise.  CBS2’s Ali Bauman went inside the secret world of modern-day witches to explore why so many say they’re falling under its spell. “I am the high priestess,” Lisa Stewart said. “To be a witch is incredibly relevant in today’s society,” Anton Stewart explained. Nestled in the

heart of the Hudson Valley is the Church of the Eternal Circle, the only legally recognized Wiccan Church in the state of New York. “We follow the tradition of the craft of the wise — witchcraft — and we are witches,” Stewart said. For the first time, members invited CBS2 to attend their services. “The time is right,” Lisa said. Stewart and her husband Anton are the founders of the church. “There are definitely more of us than you think,” she said. READ MORE

Heads of Turkey and France Urge US to Reverse Decision Regarding Jerusalem

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 07:16 AM PST

Heads of Turkey and France Urge US to Reverse Decision Regarding JerusalemTurkey’s Tayyip Erdogan and France’s Emmanuel Macron will work together to try to persuade the United States to reconsider its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a Turkish presidential source said on Saturday.  The two leaders agreed during a phone call that the move is worrisome for the region, the source said, adding that Turkey and France would make a joint effort to try to reverse the US decision.

Erdogan also spoke on the phone to the presidents of Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Azerbaijan on Saturday regarding the issue, the source said. On Wednesday, he called an urgent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey next week. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday has upset US allies in the West. At the United Nations, France, Italy, Germany, Britain and Sweden called on the United States to “bring forward detailed proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.”  READ MORE

Half of Humanity Believes In Aliens

Posted: 09 Dec 2017 05:21 AM PST

Half of Humanity Believes In AliensNearly half of humans believe in alien life and want to make contact, a survey in 24 countries has found, in what researchers said helps to explain the lasting popularity of the “Star Wars” franchise 40 years after the first movie was screened.  On the eve of the release of “The Last Jedi”, researchers published findings that 47 percent of more than 26,000 respondents believe “in the existence of intelligent alien civilizations in the universe”. An even greater 61 percent said “yes” when asked if they believe in “some form of life on other planets”.

Roughly a quarter said they do not believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth, researchers at Glocalities said. Among those who believe we are not alone in the universe, 60 percent said we should try to seek contact with alien civilizations, it found. It was not the first survey to collect views on extraterrestrial beings — questionnaires in Germany, Britain and the United States have found similar rates — but researchers said this was the largest poll of its kind with such global reach. 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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John MacArthur on the Confusion at Christmas

Code: B171211

For most people, Christmas is much more than a day. The word itself represents a wide variety of activities, traditions, and events. Just thinking about Christmas triggers your senses, reminding you of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes the season represents.

Reading that, you are likely thinking of some of those things right now. But as you scroll down that mental checklist of all the things Christmas means to you, where do you find Christ? Many believers would be ashamed to admit how little the birth of the Lord actually figures in their Christmas celebrations, and what a low priority He receives at this time of year.

How do God’s people keep His Son at the center of their Christmas celebrations? And how do we avoid the worldly temptations and influences that ramp up at this time of the year? We recently asked John MacArthur about these issues; here’s what he had to say.

In the days ahead, we will be doing our part to help you keep your eyes on Christ, His incarnation, and God’s grace and sovereignty displayed through the birth of His Son.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B171211
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December 11 GOD WILL KNOW WHEN TO EXALT US

Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and he shalt lift you up.

JAMES 4:10

Christians have often asked: “Must I humble myself and meekly accept every situation in life?”

I think this is the answer: As Christians, we must never violate morals or truth in humility.

If in humbling ourselves we compromise the truth, we must never do it. If it means a compromise of morality, we must never do it.

I am confident that no man or woman is ever called of God to degrade himself or herself, either morally or in truth. But we do have a calling from God to humble ourselves under His mighty hand—and let the other party do the rock-throwing!

In this call to His people for true humility, God adds the promise that He will exalt us in due time! “Due time.” It will be the time that God knows is best suited to perfect us and a time that will bring honor to God and the most good to men. That is “due time.”

It may be that in God’s will He will expect us to wait a long time before He can honor us or exalt us. But God knows what is best for each of us in His desire to make us the kind of saints that will glorify and honor Him in all things!

It is well for us to remember here that Jesus willingly humbled himself under the hand of men and so He humbled Himself under the hand of God![1]


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

December 11, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

25 Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father.
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! 28 Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. 30 And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ki 8:25–30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


25–28 Solomon’s confidence in praying is bolstered by previously answered prayer. Answered prayer is today also a strong basis for confidence in prayer. A second ground of confidence is God’s own promise. His servants frequently claim his promises when they pray, and God honors these requests (cf. Ex 32:13; Da 9:1–19). In making this petition, Solomon recognizes his own responsibility and tacitly rededicates himself to serving God.

The major point, however, of these verses is a plea that God, who has so far been faithful in every way to his covenant with David (as evidenced in the completion of the temple and the rulership of Solomon), might always accept this temple and condescend to dwell there, while receiving those who approach him by way of the temple.

Verse 27 is parenthetical. The request continues in v. 28. By means of the rhetorical question, Solomon makes it clear that he is under no illusion as to the significance of the temple, nor is it properly speaking a home for God. It would be utterly impossible to build a house that could even begin to be commensurate with, or adequate to reflect, the majesty of the Lord. God does not need the temple, but the temple needs God! God does not need Israel, but Israel needs God!

Verse 28 continues from v. 26. The connection may be rendered: “And let your word … come true … in giving attention to your servant’s prayer.” In making this great request, Solomon realizes that on the actual merits of the case, he has no right to pray as he does were it not for God’s own promise given by his grace. The only claim Solomon has on the Lord is God’s own word, freely given; but God’s Word is a bond that cannot be broken, so Solomon can pray with assurance and confidence. This privilege is the portion of believers of all ages.[1]


8:27–30 / Having completed the line of thought begun in 8:15, Solomon now turns his attention to the temple’s broader significance as a focal point for prayer. Verses 27–30 help us with the transition in thought, in advance of the petitions that the king will make in verses 31–51, each with their plea that God should “hear from heaven” (vv. 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49). The main purpose of 8:27–30, indeed, is to emphasize that this is (if anywhere is) the “place” from which God hears. God cannot dwell on earth (v. 27). The temple—in spite of the statement of verse 13—is not to be thought of as a place where God is but only as a place where God’s Name is, a place towards which God’s eyes are open (v. 29; cf. Isa. 66:1–3). The hearing of prayer is done from heaven (v. 30). This is (if anywhere is) the dwelling place of God. Even then, however, God cannot, strictly speaking, dwell in even the highest heaven (v. 27). Being utterly transcendent, God cannot be “placed” at all; all human language about dwelling must be qualified constantly, so that attempts to describe do not in fact minimize. One consequence of divine transcendence, of course, is that people do not have to be in one designated place in order to pray. As God’s eyes are open toward the temple rather than in it (v. 29), it is sufficient for people to pray toward the temple rather than be physically in it (vv. 29–30; cf. John 4:21–24).[2]


8:27–30 Although Solomon realized that no temple on earth was adequate to contain the great God, yet he asked that the Lord might recognize this temple and that when he or any of the people of Israel addressed God there, He might hear and forgive.[3]


8:27–30 will God indeed dwell on the earth? Though God will dwell in the temple (vv. 10, 13; cf. note on 1 Sam. 4:3–4), it is not to be thought of as the only place where God is, but as a special place where his name is, a place toward which his eyes are open (1 Kings 8:29; cf. Isa. 66:1–3). The hearing of prayer is done in heaven (1 Kings 8:30), which is (if anywhere is) the dwelling place of God. Even then, however, God cannot be limited to any one place; he cannot, strictly speaking, dwell in even the highest heaven (v. 27). He cannot be confined by space.[4]


8:22–30 Solomon had begun his reign with a conscious dependence on God (3:9). His long public prayer (vv. 22–53) recognized that continuing need in his life (vv. 26, 28) and the lives of his people (vv. 30, 31, 33, 35, 38, 44, 46–48). In his prayer Solomon stressed God’s faithfulness, and the need for similar faithfulness on the part of Israel, rulers and people alike, if God’s full blessings were to be realized.

8:27–29 heaven … temple: The God of Scripture is infinite; all that He has made, vast as creation may be, finally has its limits. No mere building, no matter how wonderful, can be thought of as the dwelling place of God. Yet in His grace the Lord condescends to be viewed as having His dwelling among men. God’s dwelling in a temple prefigured the Incarnation when the Creator became man, born in a stable in Bethlehem.

8:30 Since God was present in the temple in Jerusalem, prayer was to be directed toward this place (Ex. 15:17; Dan. 6:10).[5]


[1] Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (2009). 1, 2 Kings. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Samuel–2 Kings (Revised Edition) (Vol. 3, p. 705). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Provan, I. W. (2012). 1 & 2 Kings. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 79). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 364). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 611). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 439). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

December 11 THE NEED FOR REVERENCE

God is greatly to be feared…and to be had in reverence.

Psalm 89:7

Many persons who have been raised in our churches no longer think in terms of reverence, which seems to indicate that they doubt God’s presence is there! Much of the blame must be placed on the growing acceptance of a wordly secularism that seems much more appealing than any real desire for the spiritual life that is pleasing to God.

We secularize God; we secularize the gospel of Christ and we secularize worship!

No great and spiritually-minded men of God are going to come out of such churches, nor any great spiritual movement of believing prayer and revival. If God is to be honored and revered and truly worshiped, He may have to sweep us away and start somewhere else!

Let us confess that there is a necessity for true worship among us. If God is who He says He is and if we are the believing people of God we claim to be, we must worship Him! In my own assessment, for men and women to lose the awareness of God in our midst is a loss too terrible ever to be appraised!

Dear Lord, forgive me for those times when I rush right in and start “dumping” my complaints and needs on You without first acknowledging and honoring You as the Almighty God. I humbly bow before You, Lord.[1]


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

December 11 Parable of the Sower: Superficial Hearers, Part 2

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.—Matt. 13:20–21

Those who only superficially receive the gospel might be baptized, join a church, and seem for a long time to be Christians. But trials and testings will eventually expose such persons’ spiritual lifelessness. Such difficulties are not the ordinary hardships of life but the problems encountered “because of the word.” When the Christian life’s demands get too severe, the person discontinues any pretense of following the Lord.

“Falls away” is the translation of skandalizō, the Greek verb that means to cause to stumble and can include the concept of offending someone. We get the English scandalize from it. All these ideas fit the superficial hearer because when something really tests his or her faith, they stumble, become offended, and abandon the gospel (cf. John 8:31; 1 John 2:19).

If a person’s profession of salvation doesn’t include real conviction of sin, a strong desire for the Lord, and a love for His Word, along with willingness to suffer for Him if need be, it’s only a matter of time before that one renounces any previous profession of faith.

It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12); but “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

ASK YOURSELF

Everything of real value comes with a cost. Why should Christianity be any different? Where do we get the idea that following Christ should require little effort and be met with little resistance, both from within and without?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 354). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 11 Deliverance from Temporary Distress

I know this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:19

Today’s verse shows the value of confident trust in God. Paul knew his current distress was only temporary and that he would be delivered from it.

Why was Paul convinced of his deliverance? His statement, “I know this will turn out for my deliverance” is a quote of the Greek version of Job 13:16. Job was a righteous man who suffered greatly, yet he was delivered because God always delivers the righteous. Job said, “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). He knew that either temporally or eternally God would deliver him.

Paul knew he could trust God to deliver him just as God had delivered Job. He was confident his circumstances would work out for good, whether he was released from prison, vindicated at his trial, and delivered from execution or passed into glory as a martyr. You may not face the same trials as Paul, but whatever your circumstances, the same confident trust is available to you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 372). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 11, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

11–12 The Lord was faithful in changing circumstances. The psalmist returns to the dominant motif of this psalm—Yahweh the Vindicator. He is the Lord who effectually changed wailing into dancing, mourning into joy, and a deathly cry into a song of joy (v. 11). Such is the goodness of God. Notice how Calvin, 1:489, observed this over four hundred years ago: “But however much God may terrify and humble his faithful servants, with manifold signs of his displeasure, he always besprinkles them with the sweetness of his favor to moderate and assuage their grief.”

Because of the mercy of the Lord, the psalmist vows to continue in the praise of God (v. 12b). The NIV translates “glory” (kābôd; see 7:5) as “heart.” The word occurs in parallelism with “soul” (7:5; NIV, “life”) and so frequently refers to the whole human being or existence. He will glorify the Lord! To this end he was redeemed, because he had argued, “Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?” To this end the Lord vindicates his servant in the presence of his enemies (cf. v. 1; 23:5; 2 Th 1:5–10). Alter, 135, senses the magnificence of the psalmist’s language: “It is through language that God must be approached, must be reminded that, since his greatness needs language in order to be made known to men, he cannot dispense with the living user of language for the consummation of that end.”[1]


David celebrates god’s answer (vv. 11–12)

David returns to the point with which he began. His heart is filled with thanksgiving because God had heard and answered his prayer. Those who have been saved have been chastised, and those who have been chastised are eager and ready to praise when the chastisement is over.[2]


30:11 Now back to David. Verses 9 and 10 give us his prayer to God when he was in the throes of his illness. Then between verses 10 and 11 the answer comes. He is healed by the Lord. The last two verses of the Psalm celebrate his recovery. For David it was like the difference between the mourning of a funeral and the joy of a wedding. Or to change the figure, it was like a new suit of clothes. God had removed his sackcloth and dressed him up in garments of gladness.[3]


30:11–12 I Will Give Thanks Forever. The experiences in which sorrow has turned to joy lead the psalmist, and all who worship with him, to expect to sing God’s praise and give him thanks (cf. v. 4) forever. My glory is a poetical term in the Psalms for one’s whole being (cf. 16:9; 108:1).[4]


30:11 You have turned my wailing into my The psalmist returns to his praise of thanksgiving as he describes the faithful restoration Yahweh provides.

By proclaiming his thanksgiving, the psalmist shows the benefit of Yahweh’s deliverance; Yahweh’s deliverance enables him to praise Yahweh and proclaim his thankfulness. The psalmist encourages others to praise and give thanks with him (vv. 4–5).

dancing Represents a joyous celebration (Jer 31:13).

sackcloth A sign of mourning. See note on Neh 9:1.[5]


30:11, 12 mourning into dancing: The psalmist has been transformed and renewed because of God’s blessing on his life. He boasts in God as he fulfills his vow of praise. My glory refers to the psalmist’s inner being (16:9).[6]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 301). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (p. 95). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 591). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 974). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 30:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 668). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

December 11 GROWING ADMIRATION FOR GOD

Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee.

—Exodus 15:6-7

Then there is admiration, that is, appreciation of the excellency of God. Man is better qualified to appreciate God than any other creature because he was made in His image and is the only creature who was. This admiration for God grows and grows until it fills the heart with wonder and delight. “In our astonished reverence we confess Thine uncreated loveliness,” said the hymn writer. “In our astonished reverence.” The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks over our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. The God of the modern evangelical isn’t a God I could have much respect for. But when the Holy Ghost shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight. WMJ022-023

Maybe it’s time, Lord, for You to show us a new and unusual vision of Your majesty and power! Come among us in power and restore to us a sense of wonder, astonishment and delight. Amen.[1]


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

December 11 God’s Unfathomable Ways

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:8

✧✧✧

Christ’s humiliation displayed God’s wisdom.

Somewhere along the path of Christ’s descent, you’d think He would have said to Himself, These people really aren’t worth redeeming. This is too degrading and humiliating! But the grace and love of God toward sinners was such that Christ stooped to die for you and me. At the end of Paul’s doctrinal survey of salvation in Romans, he said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (11:33). He was in awe of God’s plan of salvation—a plan no man would have devised.

If we had planned the Incarnation, we probably would have wanted Christ to be born in a palace. His family would have been wealthy and prominent, and He would have been educated in the finest universities with elite teachers and the best tutors. We would have orchestrated events so that everyone loved, revered, honored, and respected Him. He would have been in all the prominent places and met all the prominent people.

We would not have had Him born in a stable to a poor family. He would not have spent His youth in a carpenter’s shop in an obscure town. Rather than a ragtag band of followers, we would have made sure He had only the best people as His disciples, and they would have had to pass stiff qualifying tests for the privilege.

We would not have allowed Him to be humiliated. We would have imprisoned or executed anyone who spit on Him, pulled His beard, mocked Him, or hurt Him. Our plan for the Messiah would have been very different from God’s plan, and, as a result no one could have been saved. It’s no wonder the psalmist said, “Thy judgments are like a great deep” (Ps. 36:6). God’s ways are unsearchable, His truths profound. And His plan to redeem us was accomplished by Christ’s humiliation.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Daniel prayed, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him” (Dan. 2:20). Like Daniel, worship the only wise God, who saved you.

For Further Study: Read 1 Peter 2:21–24. What did Christ leave you (v. 21)?[1]


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

December 10 Daily Help

THERE are times in our spiritual experience when human counsel or sympathy, or religious ordinances, fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this? Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without him, and he therefore takes away everything upon which we have been in the habit of depending, that he may drive us to himself. It is a blessed thing to live at the fountain head. Having nothing of our own to trust to, but resting upon the merits of Jesus. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsting condition, we are sure to turn to the fountain of life with eagerness.[1][1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 348). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

December 10, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

To Keep from Losing His Reward

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. (9:16–18)

the reward was not for the message or the ministry of the gospel

Paul spoke of boasting in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31), “boasting in things pertaining to God” (Rom. 15:17), and such. Even more often he spoke of rejoicing in the gospel, of glorying in the cross, and supremely of glorying in Jesus Christ. But he says, if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of.

He gloried in the gospel but not for it. He had absolutely nothing to do with the giving or the content of the gospel. He simply received the revelation. Nor was he boasting of his commitment to or ability in preaching the gospel. He did preach the gospel, more diligently than anyone of whom we know, but for this he was under compulsion. The Lord stopped him short one day on the road to Damascus, as he was on his way there to persecute Christians. At that time he was set apart as the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:3–6, 15; 26:13–18; cf. Rom. 11:13). Paul chose God’s call in the sense that he was not “disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19), but he really had no choice. He was under compulsion.

As Paul realized later, God had set him apart even from his “mother’s womb” (Gal. 1:15). Like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:13–17), Paul was called and ordained by God before he was born. And like Jeremiah, Paul could refrain from preaching. When frustrated and despondent because of rejection and ridicule, Jeremiah tried to stop preaching but could not. “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jer. 20:9). To the Colossians Paul said, “I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me” (Col. 1:25).

At some time or another, every preacher whom the Lord has called will realize that he is under God’s compulsion. It is not that God’s calling cannot be ignored, neglected, or slighted, but that it cannot be changed. The man who resists God’s call or tries to give it up will, like Jeremiah, experience a “burning fire shut up in [his] bones” until he obeys. He has no choice.

Ramond Lull, the Spanish mystic, lived a careless and luxurious life for many years. He wrote that in a vision one night Christ came to him carrying a cross and said, “Carry this cross for me, Ramond.” He pushed Christ away and refused. In a later vision the same thing happened: Christ offered the cross and Ramond refused it. In a third vision Christ laid the cross in the man’s arms and walked away. “What else could I do,” Ramond explained, “but take it up?”

Added to that sense of constraint is a serious and compelling responsibility, which Paul articulates in the words, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. In effect, he says that failure to obey that call would result in his suffering serious chastisement. The severest judgments are promised on unfaithful ministers (James 3:1).

Paul gladly preached the gospel, but he did not do it voluntarily. Against my will does not indicate he was unwilling to obey but that his will had no part in the call itself. It was not his choice to serve Christ, so consequently, he did not receive a reward but a stewardship. He was under obligation to preach, for which he neither deserved nor expected reward.

Stewardship indicates that someone gives us something or some responsibility that is valued to them, which we are to care for properly. That is the case in every call to minister. God gives the minister what He highly values for safe care, and promises stern discipline to the one who falls short. Paul uses the interjection woe (ouai) to indicate the impending pain.

the reward was for preaching without charge

Having mentioned what his reward could not be for, Paul now mentions what it would be for.

What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. (9:18)

The gospel was thrust on Paul; he was under compulsion to preach it, and would have been in serious trouble with the Lord if he had not. But he was not under compulsion in regard to payment for it. In that he was entirely free to expect support from those he served. He chose not to be paid because he wanted it that way, not because it was necessary. In that choice he found great satisfaction and joy, and for that choice he knew he would receive a reward.

He was determined not to make full use of [his] right in the gospel. He would work after hours, day and night, to earn his own living rather than be a burden to those he served or cause them to think he was in the ministry for the money.

With great happiness and satisfaction Paul forsook a liberty, he refused to take advantage of a right, in order to make a contribution of his very own to the work of Christ.[1]


16–17 If Paul, then, does not preach in order to support himself financially, what does motivate him? While he offers other motivations elsewhere (e.g., 2 Co 5:14), here Paul says that there is simply within his heart an inner “compulsion” (anankē, GK 340) to preach—a trait apparent in certain of the OT prophets (e.g., Jer 20:9; Am 3:8). Moreover, Paul goes so far as to pronounce a prophetic “Woe!” upon himself if he does not preach the gospel—and do so free of charge. The word ouai (“woe,” GK 4026) occurs frequently in the OT prophets to denote coming disaster and even divine judgment (e.g., Isa 3:11; 5:8–25; Eze 13:3, 18; Am 5:18). The notion that Paul is looking ahead to a heavenly reward is very much a part of the picture in this section (vv. 18, 24–27).

18 Paul does not want to receive any monetary reward for his work as a missionary-apostle. What, then, is his payment (misthos, GK 3635, “wages,” “recompense,” “reward”)? It is the inner reward that comes from knowing that he is preaching voluntarily, offering the gospel free of charge, and not making use of his right to gain his support from preaching. In this way, Paul shows his own application of the principle offered in his earlier discussion on whether to eat meat sacrificed in an idol temple. While he felt a personal right to eat such meat, he voluntarily would not exercise that right so as not to put a stumbling block in the way of the gospel (8:13).

But in the present discussion of receiving support for his ministry, how could accepting money from his converts hinder the progress of the gospel? David Garland, 419, points out several possible answers to this question: (1) Some people might not believe the gospel if they knew it would lead to financial obligations. (2) Others might see a contradiction between Christ’s grace being free but becoming a Christian not being free. (3) Paul perhaps did not want to become a “slave” to a patron donor who supported his ministry and who could then control the content of his preaching (“money is power”). (4) Paul wished to dissociate himself from other religious hucksters in the ancient world, some of whom made a good living from flowery rhetorical appeal.[2]


9:16 / This verse lays out the situation Paul faced in preaching the gospel. He preached because God had commissioned or commanded him to do so. It is not to his credit that he preached; he would be in a deplorable situation had he not done so. God’s commission made it necessary for Paul to preach the gospel, and for him to fail to fulfill that charge would be awful, unthinkable.

9:17 / Paul explains how he derives a benefit from his obedience to God’s command to preach that he would not have received had he taken his rightful payment for his services. By not taking support, Paul did not claim his rights. He gave up his own rights for the benefit of being able to offer something to God and to others that he would not have had to offer otherwise. Paul’s practice is simple, although it is so selflessly odd, so God-centered, and so much for the sake of others that we have difficulty grasping his line of thought. Above all, Paul aims to contribute something to the accomplishment of the mission that God gave him.

9:18 / As he concludes this section of the letter, Paul continues to explain why he preached without pay or support from the churches that he founded and to which he ministered. Amazingly, Paul’s reward is that he takes no reward! Paul preached because he was commissioned to do so, and by not taking his due he gave up his own rights as an offering to God. Paul made an offering of his preaching to God, and in so doing he demonstrated his freedom (9:1) by providing his services freely to the church. By refusing to accept support, Paul preached according to God’s commission, but he did not take advantage of the rights of support that God afforded him in conjunction with the command to preach. Paul gave his services to God free of charge, so that ironically his dividend was found in registering no charge.[3]


9:16–17. Paul wanted to continue the practice of preaching without pay. He explained that he could not boast simply because he preached the gospel. He insisted, I am compelled to preach. In other words, he had no choice. God had called him to preach, and he had to fulfill that obligation or fall under divine judgment.

How did Paul enhance his preaching ministry? He preached voluntarily so he might receive a reward. Paul frequently spoke of himself and of other Christians being motivated to service by a desire for reward and praise (Rom. 2:29; Gal. 6:4–10; Col. 3:24). Eternal reward motivated him as it should all believers. Paul did not want to lose his eternal rewards for preaching willingly and eagerly and without pay. If he preached begrudgingly or received pay, he believed he would be doing nothing more than simply discharging the trust committed to him. To raise his preaching above the level of mere obedience, Paul voluntarily gave up his right to remuneration.

9:18. To sum up the matter, Paul asked what his reward was. This verse presents a number of complexities. If one reads the verse as a question and answer, then two understandings are possible. First, many interpreters have understood Paul to say that preaching was a reward in itself. To preach the gospel free of charge, and in so doing not to make use of his rights for pay, was sufficient reward. But in the light of 9:17, it seems better to understand Paul in another way. The second interpretation is that Paul knew he would one day receive a reward for having preached without remuneration. Christ would reward Paul for not seeking his own benefit in this world.

This verse may also be translated entirely as a question. It would thus read, “What then is my reward so that, when I preach the gospel, I offer it free of charge so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel?” Paul may have been asking what great reward motivated him to forfeit his rights by offering the gospel free of charge. In this case, his answer would come in 9:23: “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”[4]


16. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about. I am compelled to preach, for woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel.

When Jesus called Paul on the road to Damascus, he told him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and to the people of Israel (Acts 9:15; 26:15–18). When he began his ministry, Paul proclaimed the good news to the Jews in the synagogues of Damascus and Jerusalem. He then taught in the church in Antioch and from there went to Cyprus and Asia Minor to acquaint Jews and Gentiles with Christ’s gospel. As he reveals in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders, “I testified to both Jews and Greeks that they turn in repentance to God and faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). Because Paul was appointed to preach, he did not see that task as a reason for boasting. Instead, his commission from the Lord compelled him to preach. Paul wanted to complete the task which the Lord Jesus had given him, namely, preaching the gospel to both Jews and Greeks.

“For woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel.” Paul raises the lament which the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles raised. Like Paul, these men were overcome by the urgency of uttering the message God gave them. Jeremiah said that God’s Word was like a fire in his heart and in his bones (Jer. 20:9) and Amos writes that because God has spoken he must speak (Amos 3:8). Peter and John, standing before the Sanhedrin, tell this ruling body that they cannot help but speak what they have seen and heard concerning Jesus Christ (Acts 4:20).

The phrase woe to me describes the greatest misery imaginable for Paul. He would bring this misery upon himself if he proved disobedient to his divine mandate to preach. He must preach the gospel of salvation—in his own words to Timothy, “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). If not, he would incur God’s wrath and its consequences. Paul is a slave of Jesus Christ, as he often notes in his epistles (see, e.g., Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Titus 1:1), and as such he faithfully executes his task (Luke 17:10).

17. If I do this of my own choice, I have a reward. But if I do so under compulsion, I simply fulfill the stewardship entrusted to me.

This verse is obscure, and the first part fails to correspond properly to the message of the previous verse (v. 16). The second sentence fits the context, for Paul indicates that he is under divine obligation to preach the gospel. The problem, then, lies in the first part of the verse, particularly with the word reward. Paul seems to retrace his steps in the following verse (v. 18), where he asks and answers the question what his reward is. With his repeated use of the first person pronoun (four times), he calls attention to himself.

  • “If I do this of my own choice.” If we see this verse as continuing the explanation about Paul’s rights as a preacher, the difficulties remain but no longer appear insurmountable. The Corinthians cannot understand how Paul fails to defend his rights as a preacher. They view him as a preacher who has come to them of his own free will. But Paul informs them that if he had come to them of his own choice, he would have expected monetary compensation from them. Then he would have a reward.
  • “But if I do so under compulsion, I simply fulfill the stewardship entrusted to me.” Paul writes the word stewardship to show that although he is an apostle with rights (vv. 1–6), he serves Jesus as a steward (see 4:1). In Paul’s day, stewards were slaves who were given the responsibility of managing their master’s household, estate, or financial affairs.

Paul knows that he has received his stewardship from Jesus himself. Whether a steward does his task by choice or under compulsion, his responsibility remains unaltered. If such a person fulfills his task not of his own will but because his master assigned it to him, he is merely a steward. He is like the servant in the parable who plowed his master’s field, prepared his master’s supper, waited on him, and finally had a free moment to eat and drink. He received no expression of gratitude for his labors, because he was his master’s servant. Similarly, God’s servants should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10).

18. What then is my reward? When I preach the gospel, I offer it free of charge so as not to make full use of my authority in the gospel.

  • “What then is my reward?” Paul realizes that in his discourse he failed to explain the word reward in the first sentence of the preceding verse (v. 17). Now he turns his attention to it and gives his explanation. Paul’s desire to be obedient to his divine commission is evident in many epistles (e.g., 15:9–10; Gal. 1:15–16; Eph. 3:8–9). He regarded his commission to preach as a privilege. As a slave of Christ he willingly obeyed his Sender and thus received a reward. This reward is not something Paul desires for himself. He proclaims the gospel free of charge (v. 18).
  • “When I preach the gospel, I offer it free of charge. “Jesus commanded that the worker should receive his pay (Luke 10:7). In a sense, the phrase preach the gospel denotes as much the preaching as the actual living in accordance with the gospel. Those who preach the gospel should receive their income from the gospel (v. 14). But Paul refuses to avail himself of his apostolic right and calls his preference to preach the gospel without pay his “boast” (v. 15). He labels his action not to accept payment for his work in the ministry his “reward” (v. 18). Conversely, if he had been told to preach for a certain sum of money, he would have been thwarted in his purpose. The gospel would have been proclaimed, but Paul’s reason for boasting would have been taken away.

By not receiving remuneration for his services, Paul was free from obligation to anyone. No one could ever lay a claim on Paul because of some monetary accountability (see 2 Cor. 11:7). In this freedom, Paul could actively proclaim the good news to everyone.

The purity of Paul’s motive is aptly illustrated with a parallel taken from the medical world. “A physician may attend the sick from the highest motives, though he receives a remuneration for his services. But when he attends the poor gratuitously, though the motives may be no higher, the evidence of their purity is placed beyond question.” Paul preached the gospel free of charge—indisputable evidence of his pure motive.

  • “So as not to make full use of my authority in the gospel.” This second part of the sentence not only further explains the first part, but also concludes the entire segment on Paul’s apostolic rights. Paul knows full well that he has the apostolic right to make his living from the gospel, but he chooses to ply the trade of the tentmaker. He uses his other rights but does not receive financial recompense. The last three words of the sentence, “in the gospel,” should be taken with the word authority and should not be understood as an abbreviated reference to preaching the gospel. Paul gratuitously offers his services in regard to the gospel.

We raise two questions. First, why did Paul choose to preach the gospel without charge? He certainly did not do it to gain higher praise than the other apostles, who did exercise their apostolic right. Even though Paul writes that he worked harder than the others, he attributes praise and thanks to God (15:10). The thought of performing work for his own advantage was repugnant to Paul. He worked for the sake of the gospel and its increasing influence in the world.

Second, is Paul asking preachers of the gospel to imitate him? The answer is a resounding no. Nowhere in Paul’s epistles do we find any evidence that preachers should abrogate the command Jesus gave the workers in his kingdom. If a minister of the gospel has an independent source of income and offers his services free of charge, he is free to make that choice. But that choice is his own and he can never require it of others. In the same way, Paul made a choice to supply his financial needs by working at his trade, but he could never demand this of his fellow workers.[5]


9:16 Paul is saying that he cannot boast in the fact that he preaches the gospel. A divine compulsion is laid upon him. It is not a vocation that he chose for himself. He received the “tap on the shoulder” and he would have been a most miserable man if he had not obeyed the divine commission. This does not mean the apostle was not willing to preach the gospel, but rather that the decision to preach did not come from himself, but from the Lord.

9:17 If the Apostle Paul preached the gospel willingly, he would have the reward that goes with such service, namely, the right of maintenance. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, it is clearly taught that those who serve the Lord are entitled to support from the Lord’s people. In this passage, Paul does not mean that he was an unwilling servant of the Lord, but is simply stating that there was a divine compulsion in his apostleship. He goes on to emphasize this in the latter part of the verse. If he preached against his will, that is, if he preached because there was a fire burning within him and he could not refrain from preaching, then he had been entrusted with a stewardship of the gospel. He was a man acting under orders, and therefore he could not boast in that.

Verse 17 is admittedly difficult, and yet the meaning seems to be that Paul would not claim his right of maintenance from the Corinthians because the ministry was not an occupation which he chose by himself. He was placed in it by the hand of God. The false teachers in Corinth might claim their right to be supported by the saints, but the Apostle Paul would seek his reward elsewhere.

Knox’s translation of this verse is as follows: “I can claim a reward for what I do of my own choice; but when I act under constraint, I am only executing a commission.”

Ryrie comments:

Paul could not escape his responsibility to preach the gospel, because a stewardship (responsibility) had been committed to him and he was under orders to preach even though he was never paid (cf. Luke 17:10).

9:18 If then he could not boast in the fact that he preached the gospel, of what would he boast? Of something that was a matter of his own choice, namely, that he presented the gospel of Christ without charge. This is something he could determine to do. He would preach the gospel to the Corinthians, at the same time earning his own living, so as not to use to the full his right for maintenance in the gospel.

To summarize the apostle’s argument here, he is making a distinction between what was obligatory and what was optional. There is no thought of any reluctance in his preaching the gospel. He did that cheerfully. But in a very real sense, it was a solemn obligation that rested upon him. Therefore in the discharge of that obligation there was no reason for his boasting. In preaching the gospel, he could have insisted on his right to financial support, but he did not do this; rather he decided to give the gospel without charge to the Corinthians. Since this was a matter of his own will, he would glory in this. As we have suggested, Paul’s critics claimed that his working as a tentmaker indicated that he did not consider himself to be a true apostle. Here he turns his self-support in such a way as to prove that his apostleship was nonetheless real; in fact, it was of a very high and noble character.

In verses 19–22, Paul cites his example of the waiving of legitimate rights for the gospel’s sake. In studying this section, it is important to remember that Paul does not mean that he ever sacrificed important principles of the Scripture. He did not believe that the end justified the means. In these verses he is speaking about matters of moral indifference. He accommodated himself to the customs and habits of the people with whom he worked in order that he might gain a ready ear for the gospel. But never did he do anything which might compromise the truth of the gospel.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 209–211). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 338). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (pp. 186–187). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 148–149). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 300–303). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1776–1777). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

December 10: Constructing Lives by the Law

Jeremiah 18:1-18; Romans 2:12-29; Proverbs 16:12-33

Dispensing good, helpful advice gets the benevolent juices flowing. As easy as it is to give advice, though, it often hits me with the irony of a cartoon anvil when I end up tripping over my own counsel. When this happens, I’m convicted to examine my motives for advice-giving.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul challenges the superior mindset that was common among some Jewish people at the time: “But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve the things that are superior, because you are instructed by the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide of the blind, a light to those in darkness, and instructor of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Therefore, the one who teaches someone else, do you not teach yourself?” (Rom 2:17–21).

Paul is explaining why looking to the ot law for righteousness is futile. No person could perfectly keep the law. By holding to it, they were in fact condemning themselves. Paul even points out that some Jews thought they had attained a higher moral standing because of their knowledge of the law—and believed they were in a position to teach others. Yet they were still breaking the law.

It’s easy for us to discard this as an early church issue. Yet we still sometimes take comfort in “keeping the law” today. If we cling to our own good behavior rather than the righteousness we have in Christ, we commit the same sin. We can attempt to live like a saint—we can cultivate a reputation for goodness and dishing out wisdom—but we’ll set ourselves up for imminent failure because we can never keep up the pretense of godly behavior on our own.

However, if our “circumcision is of the heart”—if we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for our righteousness and the Spirit is working in us—then our hearts will be in the right place. That place is where we know we are great sinners, and where we are receptive to His transforming work to bring us into complete loyalty to Him. Then we will seek God’s favor, not the favor and superiority we crave from others.

If our lives are truly changed, we will be motivated to love others out of the love God shows us. That will give us the right perspective for seeing the transformation that God is working in their hearts. And it will free us to give the best advice of all: Seek God in everything.

What are your motives for giving advice?

Rebecca Van Noord[1][1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.