Daily Archives: December 22, 2017

December 22 Confirmation from God

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3–4).

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God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached through Christ with many miracles.

When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works” (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).

God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles, so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.

Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.

Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ’s salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and will bring you damnation. Don’t allow yourself to drift past God’s grace.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His Word and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Acts 5–19, and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 369). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

DECEMBER 22 GROWING LOVE FOR OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

JOHN 13:35

Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of fault-finding.

This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts—it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh! His new spirituality has made him less charitable, and we must be cautioned that any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may be safely written off as spurious. The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith, insisting that as we grow in grace we grow in love toward all of God’s people: “Every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 John 5:1). This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians!

Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. Conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God![1]


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

December 22, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

The UN Security Council is considering a U.S.-drafted resolution that would impose additional sanctions on North Korea, targeting almost 90 percent of Pyongyang’s refined oil product imports and placing additional limits on crude imports.

The Senate gave final approval to a short-term extension of federal funding to keep the government running for three more weeks.

Offices of U.S. senators reached 13 employment-related discrimination or harassment settlements that totaled nearly $600,000 paid by taxpayer funds over two decades.

U.S. District Judge James Robart questioned the government’s claim that its latest refugee ban isn’t meant to be indefinite and indicated at a hearing in Seattle that he’ll block the policy.

The Mossad already has a recruiting website. This month it launched a “Careers” page on Facebook to reach a wider audience and find the best candidates to fill dozens of positions.

More than two decades after white-minority rule ended in South Africa, most of its profitable farms and estates are still owned by white people, and about 95 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 10 percent of the population. The ruling African National Congress has vowed to step up wealth distribution and promised “radical economic transformation,” including constitutional changes to allow the government to expropriate land without paying for it.

Japan’s cabinet approved a record defense budget of about $46 billion, as the nation looks to bolster its capabilities amid North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear weapon threats.

Belarus President Lukashenko, who’s labored for years under the title of Europe’s last dictator, is making a bid for a shiny new image as the continent’s freewheeling cryptocurrency king.

The number of people signing up for insurance on the federal healthcare.gov marketplace decreased to about 8.8 million in an abbreviated enrollment window. That’s down about 4.4 percent from last year, when the Obama administration oversaw the process.

The U.S. Navy underplayed the development risks posed by key technologies for its new $128 billion Columbia-class nuclear-powered submarine, the Government Accountability Office said.

Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware.

AP Top Stories

A bus carrying cruise ship passengers on a tour of ancient Mayan ruins flipped on a highway in southeast Mexico early Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 18.

Catalonia’s secessionist parties won enough votes Thursday to regain a slim majority in the regional parliament and give new momentum to their political struggle for independence from Spain.

Police in Chicago said on Thursday they have arrested 50 people suspected of using “secret groups” on Facebook to deal in guns and drugs, and have teamed up with the world’s largest social media network to crack down on criminal trafficking online.

All 58 victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting died of gunshot wounds, a coroner said Thursday, revealing that no one was trampled to death trying to escape from an outdoor concert that turned into a massacre.

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on 13 “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors” including Myanmar general Maung Maung Soe, who oversaw this year’s brutal crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The Saudi-led coalition conducted multiple air raids in Yemen on Wednesday, a day after Huthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh in an attack Washington said was enabled by Iran.

Facing the eventual demise of gasoline engines, Japan’s NGK Spark Plug Co., the world’s biggest maker of spark plugs is turning its focus to a component it believes will be just as vital in the coming era of electric vehicles – next-generation all solid state batteries.

Chinese military aircraft have again carried out drills in the Western Pacific with bombers and fighters from a South China Sea naval air arm exercising with warships.

Bitcoin plunged below $13,000 on Friday after losing around a third of its value in just five days, with the digital currency on track for its worst week since 2013 after a blistering ascent to a peak close to $20,000 on Sunday.

BBC

Sharp increases in the numbers of those seeking asylum in the European Union have been linked to higher temperatures in agricultural regions of the world. Researchers found that when temperatures deviated from 20C in food growing areas of 103 countries, more people sought refuge abroad. Around 660,000 extra applicants would be expected each year by 2100, the authors say, if current temperature trends continue.

Memphis has become the latest city to remove Confederate monuments, taking down two of the statues overnight. The likenesses of rebel leaders Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest were gone hours after the city sold them to a private group.

Australian police have arrested eight men over the nation’s largest ever seizure of the drug methamphetamine. The haul, estimated to have a street value of $800m, was uncovered when police raided a dock in Western Australia, authorities said.

WND

President Trump became the first national leader to call for protecting the U.S electric and communications grid against an electromagnetic attack like one practiced in North Korea.

Islamic State terrorists are threatening Christmas and New Year’s attacks in major cities across the US and Europe.

Cuban President Raul Castro will step down in April 2018 straight after elections that same month to choose his successor, according to a vote on Thursday.


News – 12/22/2017

US to hold ‘thank you’ event for allies after UN Jerusalem vote
The United States mission to the United Nations has invited the delegations of 64 UN General Assembly member states to a special “thank you” event, following Thursday’s vote denouncing American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

U.S. lawmakers stunned at claim DNC ‘destroyed’ server
Former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile has claimed at least twice that the DNC destroyed its server after Russians “hacked” it during the 2016 election, and now her startling admission is baffling several members of Congress who discussed the issue with WND. House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told WND that the committee will ultimately reveal why DNC officials refused to comply with the FBI’s requests to examine the server during the 2016 presidential election.

House Republicans quietly investigate perceived corruption at DOJ, FBI
A group of House Republicans has gathered secretly for weeks in the Capitol in an effort to build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and FBI improperly — and perhaps criminally — mishandled the contents of a dossier that describes alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia, according to four people familiar with their plans. The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement.

Kim Jong Out? Some see signs of collapse
One month ago, when a North Korean soldier fled through the ultra-high security Demilitarized Zone amid a hail of gunfire from his comrades, he arrived in South Korea severely wounded. But Thursday, when another soldier of the communist dictatorship made a run for freedom, no shots were fired by North Korea’s elite guards. Could the world be witnessing a repeat of 1989, when East Germans began crossing the border into Hungary and then to freedom in Austria, leading to the collapse of Eastern European communist regimes and, eventually, the Soviet Union?

DOJ Releases New Numbers: One-in-Five Federal Prisoners Are Foreign Born, Most Illegal Aliens
A total of 58,766 known or suspected aliens were in in DOJ custody at the end of FY 2017, including 39,455 persons in BOP custody and 19,311 in USMS custody. Of this total, 37,557 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens (i.e., non-citizens and non-nationals), while 21,209 foreign-born people were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage.

What an Italian bishop saw at his first exorcism
Archbishop Erio Castellucci has a response to those who think the devil is not real: “they’re mistaken.” “All you have to do is witness an exorcism to understand that evil is a specific entity, as well as a reality,” he told the Italian daily Il Resto del Carlino.

Sanhedrin Declares: UN Vote Is Nations Choosing Blessing or Curse
In a special session of 71 elders, the court of the nascent Sanhedrin called on the nations of the world to take their prophesied role in building Jerusalem by not voting against the declaration of the President Trump in the United Nations, emphasizing that this was an auspicious moment that will decide their fate, whether for blessing or curse.

Nikki Haley on UN Vote: 65 Countries Refuse to Condemn the US
Though the United Nations General Assembly voted 128-9 on Thursday in favor of denouncing US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US Ambassador and Israeli Prime Minister perceived the results as an improvement on previous anti-Israel resolutions. An additional 21 countries did not vote at all.

WAR ON CHRISTIANS: Court OKs Ban On Religious Christmas Ads
A federal appeals court has denied the Archdiocese of Washington’s bid to force the city’s public transportation agency to display its Christmas ads.

House Passes Year-End Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown
The House of Representatives, in a 231-188 vote, has passed a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running until mid-January.

UN Votes 128-9 To Declare United States Recognition Of Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital ‘Null And Void’
EDITOR’S NOTE: Most glaring in this vicious attack against the nation of Israel is the fact that Britain also voted against President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, putting the ‘special relationship‘ between the UK and the US into serious jeopardy. Jerusalem is the stone that will grind all nations who come against her to powder. This is why God allowed Trump to become president, to begin the chain of events that will lead to the time of Jacob’s trouble and the rise of Antichrist. But the Rapture of the Church comes first…

Hackers Compromise 65% of Outdoor Surveillance Cameras in D.C.Two Romanian hackers compromised 65 percent of Washington D.C.’s outdoor surveillance cameras as part of a widespread extortion scheme. The two alleged hackers, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca and Eveline Cismaru, were named last week in a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Mumps cases in Florida on rise in 2017
At least 56 cases of mumps have been reported in Florida in 2017, a significant rise over prior years but well below outbreaks in other states, which have reported hundreds of infections this year.

The 10 most insane UN anti-Israel actions of 2017
The list you’ve all been waiting for. While there were a myriad of other bona fide anti-Israel resolutions, reports and statements produced in 2017 by U.N. agencies and officials, I regret that I could only include ten.

Shock: Radio Station Jammed After It Was Reported That United Nations Vehicles Had Entered Chicago
WCKG 1530 AM radio station operator Matt Dubiel claims that The Alex Jones Show radio feed was cut off, “faded,” as Jones started speaking about the U.N. vehicles which have already entered Chicago.

Is It Really about Jerusalem?
It is worth noting that the campaign against US institutions also states that the Palestinians’ real goal is to “liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river.” In other words, this means that the true goal of the Palestinians is to destroy Israel.

German Gov’t ‘Anti-Extremism’ Initiative Funds a Pro-Iranian Regime Group
The German government is under fire for funding an allegedly Iranian-linked Islamic non-governmental organization (NGO) as part of a program designed to draw German-based Muslim communities away from extremism.

Claims That “Thousands Will Die” If Obamacare MANDATE Goes Away Is Nothing But A Democrat LIE And Here’s Why
Now that we’re on the cusp of getting rid of one of the most constitutionally offensive laws — the mandate that all Americans be forced to purchase a product, in this case, health insurance, or be punished — Democrats have gone into full panic mode and have cranked up their propaganda machine.

PAPER: How Obama’s Manipulation of ‘Sensitive Secret Intelligence’ Got Elite CIA Agents Killed
In a new report by The Washington Times, reporters Guy Taylor and Dan Boylan say the Obama administration’s dangerous habit of leaking “sensitive secret intelligence,” to the press for political gain, may have led to the death of several elite CIA agents.


December 22, 2017

PETER LEMISKA — Christians and peace-loving people around the world are struggling today – struggling to find hope in a world filled with violence and hatred. They see men, women, and children indiscriminately killed by despots and zealots who care nothing about peace. They see soldiers dying in conflicts around the world. At home, we see random killings and senseless violence in the streets of our cities. We see a fractured nation, deeply divided with no common ground in sight, a nation in which rational, civil discourse is gone – replaced by rigid ideology and hateful words…. (more)


December 22, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Christopher Steele, the former British spy who fueled an ongoing investigation into President Trump’s administration, was a lot more confident of his charges when he wrote his now-notorious 2016 dossier than he is today in defending it in a libel lawsuit…. (more)

December 22, 2017

GREG COROMBOS — Republicans are celebrating after both the House of Representatives and Senate approved major tax reform legislation, which supporters claim will put badly needed money in the pockets of American families and give an already improving economy an even bigger boost…. (more)


December 22, 2017

JOSEPH FARAH — In perhaps his biggest day of accomplishment in his first year in office, President Trump took on the United Nations (more appropriately called the United Nothings) and took a victory lap over the new tax cut that already has at least five corporations celebrating by passing on money to their employees…. (more)


December 22, 2017

WORLDNETDAILY — Former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes sent a chilling tweet Thursday in which he appeared to fantasize about reading the newspaper obituaries of Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell…. (more)


December 22, 2017

WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — Congress instructed the Department of Justice on Thursday to turn over all documents and communications that may be related to newly disclosed efforts by the Obama administration to handicap an investigation into the terror group Hezbollah and its Iranian benefactors, according to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by the Washington Free Beacon…. (more)


December 21, 2017

NBC NEWS — On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News…. (more)


December 21, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — They wanted him dead. For years, a clandestine U.S. intelligence team had tracked a man they knew was high in the leadership of al Qaeda – – an operative some believed had a hand in plotting the gruesome 2009 suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers…. (more)

December 21, 2017

SF GATE — The Latest on the U.N. vote on Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and related developments (all times local)… (more)


December 21, 2017

NEWSMAX — Former CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday ripped President Donald Trump after he threatened to pull funding from U.N. nations that voted against his Jerusalem declaration, saying the move smacked of “qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.”… (more)


December 20, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Republicans barreled toward a massive victory Tuesday with the House and Senate voting to approve a $1.5 trillion tax cut, notching the first major legislative win of the Trump presidency. In one bill, Republicans said they were checking off three major parts of their agenda: The massive tax overhaul is coupled with a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate and authority to drill for oil in a remote Alaska refuge…. (more)

December 20, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Senate Republicans passed a major overhaul of the tax code early Wednesday morning, bouncing the bill back to the House for one last vote before it is to be sent to President Trump’s desk for his signature. The bill passed 51 to 48, along party lines, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding. Republican John McCain missed the vote while recuperating in Arizona…. (more)


December 20, 2017
NEWSMAX — The House of Representatives will have to vote again on the Republican tax bill passed Tuesday because of a technical glitch in the bill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the do-over will take place Wednesday after the Senate votes on a version Tuesday night with the problem portions removed…. (more)

December 20, 2017
NEWSMAX — Passing tax reform legislation is a “huge step forward” for making American businesses more competitive in the world marketplace, Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, said Tuesday. “When they take business taxes from 35 percent – – the highest in the world, the least competitive in the world – – socialist China is at 25, we are at 35 and we wonder why we have problems?” Norquist told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program…. (more)

December 20, 2017

NATIONAL REVIEW — After the GOP’s tax proposal was finalized, a familiar cry rang out: The bill will raise taxes on all but the richest . . . in 2027. Which just happens to be after the tax cuts are set to expire, a gimmick designed to make the bill comply with congressional budget rules…. (more)


December 20, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Talk of a “deep state” or “shadow presidency” at work against President Trump surfaced before he was even inaugurated. And it continues. On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan said he believes a powerful plan had been in place to prevent Mr. Trump from reaching the White House, citing the ongoing Russia collusion investigation and other factors…. (more)

December 20, 2017

ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — The striking thing about the latest Mueller investigation controversy – – a kerfuffle over the special counsel’s acquisition of voluminous files from Trump’s transition organization – – is how unnecessary it is…. (more)


December 20, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, on Monday asked the General Services Administration to turn over more information about how special counsel Robert Mueller obtained the Trump transition team’s communications…. (more)

December 20, 2017
NEWSMAX — North Korea has begun tests to load anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles, Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person connected to South Korea’s intelligence services…. (more)

December 20, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — The empty retail space next to a Discount Liquors and Smoker Friendly used to house a Planned Parenthood, but no more. The Planned Parenthood Express Clinic in Parker, Colorado, is one of the 32 Planned Parenthood centers that shut down this year, according to a study released this month by the pro-life American Life League…. (more)


December 20, 2017

THE OREGONIAN — A federal judge Wednesday declared a mistrial in the prosecution of Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a co-defendant, citing the government’s “willful” failure to turn over multiple documents that could help the defense fight conspiracy and assault charges in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff…. (more)


December 19, 2017
Elites are quashing presumption of innocence, due process
ALAN KEYES — The headline reads, “Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson dies of ‘probably suicide’ in Mt. Washington.” The story at WDRB.com reports: “Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, who was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation, died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the Bullitt County Coroner….”… (more)

December 18, 2017

FOX NEWS — A lawyer for the Trump presidential transition team is accusing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office of inappropriately obtaining transition documents as part of its Russia probe, including confidential attorney-client communications, privileged communications and thousands of emails without their knowledge…. (more)


December 18, 2017

NEWSMAX — Former Rep. Michael Patrick Flanagan says President Donald Trump must clean out the bad elements of the FBI and be “brutal” about doing it. “You have a banana republic secret police whose job is regime preservation, not law and order preservation, and Trump is going to clear it out,” Flanagan, an Illinois Republican who now heads a lobbying and public policy firm in Washington, D.C., told Newsmax TV’s JD Hayworth on Friday…. (more)


December 18, 2017

BYRON YORK — Something is happening in the final days of 2017. People are noticing that Donald Trump has gotten a lot done in his tumultuous first year in the White House…. (more)


Mid-Day Snapshot

Dec. 22, 2017

2017 Had a Lot of Bright Spots

There were quite a few good news items, and we end the year by counting some of those blessings.

The Foundation

“Let us animate and encourage each other. … A Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” —George Washington (1776)

Headlines – 12/22/2017

UN Jerusalem vote: General Assembly rules against US, declaring recognition of Israel capital ‘null and void’

UN defies Trump, rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital by 128-9

European Coalition for Israel slams UN vote on Jerusalem, but notes that Israel is not alone after 65 members didn’t vote in favor

Iran, Turkey lash ‘thuggish’ Trump after UN vote

Zarif: UN vote a resounding global ‘No’ to US intimidation

How should the Zionist regime be annihilated? Ayatollah Khamenei answers

Turkey says UN Jerusalem vote showed dignity, sovereignty ‘not for sale’

Erdogan: World should teach U.S. a ‘very good lesson’ after Jerusalem move

Hamas praises UN resolution on Jerusalem

Fatah launches virulent attack against Trump over Jerusalem move

After UN threats, few signs Trump will cut money where his mouth is

At heated UN session, Haley threatens to cut funds: ‘Don’t disrespect us’

‘We will remember’: Haley warns UN after vote to condemn US decision on Jerusalem

Nikki Haley invites countries who supported US in UN Israel vote to reception

Full text of Nikki Haley’s speech to UN General Assembly on Jerusalem

Deputy minister urges Israel to ‘sever Jerusalem’s ties with the UN’

Netanyahu spurns UN as ‘house of lies’ ahead of Jerusalem vote

Danon chides ‘Palestinian puppet masters’ behind UN Jerusalem vote

Following UN vote, Hamas calls for ‘red bloody day’ in West Bank

Hamas calls on Arabs to drive Israeli, US ambassadors out of Arab states

Trump is dividing Jerusalem – he basically started a process to divide the city and create two holy capitals

US to Israel: Hold back on huge Jerusalem construction

Saudi Crown Prince and Abbas discuss path to establish state of Palestine

Hamas chief in Gaza says Palestinian unity deal is collapsing

Anti-Semitism is still alive in Germany as Jews face ‘disturbing’ discrimination

Mormons perform baptisms on Holocaust victims

US envoy says expects Russia to maintain big presence in Syria

Putin’s Syria envoy: US forces should leave Syria

Australia to end airstrikes in Iraq and Syria following victory over Isis

It looks like ISIS fighters are still in Syria – and might be trying to regroup

Isis crushed in Iraq and Syria, says Theresa May

Pence to Afghan president: US is ‘here to see this through’

Afghan officials say bombings kill 4 policemen, 4 civilians

Police still checking terror link to Melbourne car ramming by Australian citizen of Afghan descent

Food security in Middle East, North Africa deteriorating, says UN agency

Civil war is pushing South Sudan closer to starvation

Starvation in Sanaa: 1,000 days of Yemen’s civil war

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Go Nuclear: If Iran Allowed to Enrich Uranium, So Should We

Saudi Arabia should not forfeit “sovereign” right to enrich uranium – senior prince

North Korea Expected to Test a Missile Loaded With a Live Nuclear Weapon in 2018

The US reportedly wants a limited strike on North Korea to give Kim Jong Un a ‘bloody nose’

North Korea says new Trump security strategy seeks ‘total subordination of whole world’

UN to vote on new North Korea sanctions targeting oil

Putin Has a Rebellion Brewing in His Backyard

Russian Foreign Ministry says latest US sanctions are ‘grotesque’

Russian hackers targeted more than 200 journalists globally

House Republicans quietly investigate perceived corruption at DOJ, FBI

Causes of death released for 58 killed in Las Vegas shooting

Coroner says Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock killed himself

Catalan separatists win majority in election, in rebuke to Spain and EU

Bitcoin Tumbles Below $13,000 as Investors Face ‘Reality Check’

This Skull-Shaped Asteroid Is Coming Back to Haunt Earth Next Year

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Ravar, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Fort McPherson, Canada

Large Earthquakes in Bárðarbunga Volcano Detected This Morning

Bezymianny volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 21,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,500ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Tropical Storm Tembin poses new threats to Philippines, Vietnam

Houston mayor makes desperate plea for Hurricane Harvey recovery aid

Yemen cholera cases hit 1 million in ‘hideous milestone’ for worst outbreak on record

Second judge blocks Trump’s rollback of contraception rules

AP Poll: Sexual misconduct allegations voted top news story

Ohio priest under investigation for relationship with minor threw himself off Chicago skyscraper

Girl gets 25 years in mental hospital in Slender Man case

Hindu nationalists warn Christian missionary schools they celebrate Christmas ‘at their own risk’

Indonesian Islamist militants threaten to raid businesses where Muslims forced to wear Santa hats for Christmas

Bethel Church Children’s Pastor Teaching Telepathy

What Michael Brown is hiding from his audience (Part 1): Attacking Christian authors; contends for NAR gospel

Evangelist Arrested, Jailed While Preaching Christ Outside ‘A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour’ in Texas

Supreme Court Will Decide if Illegal Immigrants Have a “Right” to Abortion

CNN Promotes Children’s Book With Gay Married Santa

Rare Quakes in US: Strongest quake this year in Alabama; M2.3 tremor rattles Vermont, 2.0 strikes New Madrid

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:56 AM PST

Rare Quakes in US: Strongest quake this year in Alabama; M2.3 tremor rattles Vermont, 2.0 strikes New MadridIn the last 24 hours, 2 rare quakes rattled the central and eastern parts of the USA. The strongest earthquake in Alabama this years – actually a minor M2.7 – hit near Scottsboro on December 20, 2017.Wednesday night. About 4 hours later, Upper Valley folks felt the ground shake when a M2.3 earthquake hit near White River Junction, Vermont. Small earthquakes are rare, but not unheard of, in the northeast. Last month, a M4.1 earthquake struck near Dover, Delaware. The Alabama quake was first measured at M2.9 and then downgraded to M2.7. The M2.7 – or M2.9 – is the 20th quake and the

strongest recorded in Alabama this year – placed equal with 3 other M2.7 tremors. The tremor was detected at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday and hit just under 4 miles below the earth’s surface 4.9 miles west of Scottsboro and about 27 miles east of Huntsville. A M1.8 earthquake was detected in extreme northeast Alabama on Tuesday night, the latest in a series of minor quakes in the state. The second rare earthquake struck near White River Junction, Vermont, near the New Hampshire border around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at a depth of less than 4 miles. READ MORE

South Africa Downgrades its Israel Embassy

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:38 AM PST

South Africa Downgrades its Israel EmbassySouth Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party on Wednesday approved a resolution to downgrade the country’s embassy in Israel.  The decision, which ANC made at its national conference in Johannesburg, called for the “immediate and unconditional” downgrade of the embassy to a liaison office. “In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine; the ANC

has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office,” said a statement from the party.  “We concur with the PLO leader, General Jibril Rajoub, who was at our conference where explained that the downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law,” ANC added. READ MORE

 

Judge Rules State Can’t Force CA Baker to Make Cakes for Same-Sex Weddings

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:24 AM PST

Judge Rules State Can’t Force CA Baker to Make Cakes for Same-Sex WeddingsThe state of California attempted to shut down a baker after its Christian owner refused to make cakes for same-sex weddings, saying it went against her religious beliefs.  California’s Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a surprise motion for a temporary restraining order—giving the owner of Tastries Baker, Cathy Miller less than 12 hours to prepare. “This un-professionalism is just

another example of the LGBT activists and their government allies’ crusade to crush Cathy because of her Christian beliefs,” said Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF). A judge denied the motion which would have forced Miller to create wedding cakes for LGBT couples or not sell them at all. “We’re Christian, we love everyone,” she said. “God created everyone – we love everyone.” READ MORE

Bell Ringer Beaten After Wishing Man ‘Merry Christmas’

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:14 AM PST

Bell Ringer Beaten After Wishing Man ‘Merry Christmas’A Salvation Army bell ringer was attacked in front of Walmart for simply spreading holiday cheer. We’ve all heard it; the jingle that means it’s nearly Christmas and ringing in sounds of hope for donations. But not everyone is in the giving spirit. “I greet everybody, ‘Merry Christmas,’” said Rev. Jamie Wolfe, Sr.

Sadly, those two simple words got this bell ringer knocked out. “He haymakered me, hit me, got me down on the ground and we started wrestling, at that point I’m fighting for my life,” Wolfe Sr. said. The man wasn’t after the kettle money, but instead, his cheer. “Definitely unexpected,” he claimed. It was a savage attack — not even a Grinch could compare. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: US preparing attack on North Korea

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:07 AM PST

DEVELOPING: US preparing attack on North KoreaThe US is preparing plans to deliver a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea to knock out its nuclear weapons program.  The White House has “dramatically” ramped up its military plans amid fears that diplomacy won’t thwart North Korean despot Kim Jong Un from making good on his threats, sources told the UK’s Telegraph.

One option is destroying a launch site before the rogue regime uses it for a new missile test, while another is targeting weapons stockpiles, according to the news outlet. The Trump administration hopes that pre-emptive action would show the trigger-happy dictator that the United States is serious about stopping his bellicose pursuits and persuading him to negotiate. READ MORE

 

UN Condemns US on Jerusalem, Haley Tells Nations ‘We Will Remember’ This

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 11:02 AM PST

UN Condemns US on Jerusalem, Haley Tells Nations ‘We Will Remember’ ThisThe United Nations General Assembly today approved a resolution 128 to 9 calling President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move the U.S. embassy there “null and void” — however, it does nothing to change U.S. plans. The vote comes after U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley warned member nations she would be “taking names” of those who vote against the United States. President Trump took it a step further by threatening to cut off U.S. funding to the U.N. The United

States is the largest contributor to the international body. “This is bullying,” said the ambassador from Turkey adding, the “dignity of member states is not for sale.” Ambassador Haley told the body that the U.S. feeds, clothes and educates desperate people while nurturing and sustaining peace in fragile places throughout the world because it’s a reflection of American values. However, she said, when the U.S. makes generous contributions to the U.N. and the world we expect that goodwill to be respected.  READ MORE

Lecrae Reveals Album Sales Plummeted After Criticizing White Evangelicals

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 06:20 AM PST

Lecrae Reveals Album Sales Plummeted After Criticizing White EvangelicalsHip-hop artist Lecrae recently made an appearance on the controversial Bad Christian podcast where he opened up about the disappointment he felt and the backlash he received for condemning white evangelicals.  On the podcast, the Reach Record founder said he was alienated for taking a stand on social and political issues. The interview delves into Lecrae’s past comments about the Church and white evangelicals. “I was forced to [speak abrasively to white evangelicals] because no one would listen to me

when I was trying to be reasonable,” the 38-year-old said. “They unfollowed me, they blocked me, they stopped buying my projects. They told me I was being divisive and to shut my mouth,” the rapper revealed to Bad Christian.  In 2015, Lecrae’s Anomaly surprised the world with its recording-breaking first-week sales of 88,000 units sold, not including streaming. But he saw a dramatic difference this year, as his album, All Things Work Together, fell short in comparison.  READ MORE

Scientists warn massive magma pool bubbling under New England will one day spark volcanic eruption

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 06:13 AM PST

Scientists warn massive magma pool bubbling under New England will one day spark volcanic eruptionA large pool of Magma has been found underneath a number of US states – and it will most likely spark a volcanic eruption.  Scientists at Rutgers University recently discovered the large mass of boiling hot rock that stretches across Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.  And it is believed it will eventually lead to a volcanic eruption as the magma nears the surface.  Vadim Levin, a professor at

Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said: “The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England.  “It is a very large and relatively stable region, but we found an irregular pattern with rather abrupt changes in it.  “The bad news is, it’s going to erupt.”  But Professor Levin said the eruption won’t happen for “a few million years”.  “The good news is, it’s going to erupt a few million years from now,” he said. READ MORE

Wycliffe Reaches Out to the Deaf with Sign Language Bible Translations

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 06:03 AM PST

Wycliffe Reaches Out to the Deaf with Sign Language Bible TranslationsImagine not having a Bible in your language. That’s a reality for around 2,000 languages across the globe.  Now in its 75th year, the world-renowned Wycliffe Bible Translators continues its work at reducing that number. One of their newest missions is reaching the deaf.  “The Scriptures clearly state that the Word will go forth to all people, all nations around the world, and then Christ will return,” Andy

Keener, director of global partnerships for Wycliffe USA, told CBN News. “And God has it all planned out, and the fact that he chooses to use an organization like Wycliffe to help bring about his plan just encourages me.” While the numbers are also encouraging, much work still needs to be done. The organization says up to 160 million people need the Bible translated in their languages.  READ MORE

Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Members Backing Anti-Israel Jerusalem Resolution

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 05:53 AM PST

Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Members Backing Anti-Israel Jerusalem ResolutionPresident Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote to pass a United Nations General Assembly resolution seeking to rescind his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump told reporters at the White House, according to Reuters.

After the U.S. on Monday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution seeking to reaffirm Jerusalem’s status as unresolved, the Palestinians asked Arab and Muslim nations take a similar draft to the 193-member UN General Assembly for a nonbinding but symbolic vote to take place at a rare emergency special session on Thursday. Turkey and Yemen are sponsors of the draft. In a letter to dozens of member states, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that “the president and the U.S. take this vote personally.” READ MORE

FALLING AWAY: Wisconsin priest tells parishioners he’s gay, Gets standing ovation

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 05:49 AM PST

FALLING AWAY: Wisconsin priest tells parishioners he’s gay, Gets standing ovationA Roman Catholic priest in Milwaukee has come out as gay, writing that he will no longer live in the shadows of secrecy and plans to be authentic to his gay self.  The Rev. Gregory Greiten disclosed his sexual orientation on Sunday to the St. Bernadette Parish and was greeted with a standing ovation from his parishioners, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported . He also wrote a column that was published Monday in the National Catholic Reporter.

It’s rare for a priest to come out. Greiten said he revealed his sexual orientation because he wants to be a role model for others. He said he’s helping to break the silence of gay men in the clergy so he could reclaim his own voice. “I will embrace the person that God created me to be,” Greiten wrote. “In my priestly life and ministry, I, too, will help you, whether you are gay or straight, bisexual or transgendered, to be your authentic self — to be fully alive living in your image and likeness of God. READ MORE

SUV plows into pedestrians in Australia in ‘deliberate act’; Two in custody

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 05:20 AM PST

SUV plows into pedestrians in Australia in ‘deliberate act’; Two in custodyA driver of Afghan descent accused of plowing a white SUV into a crowd of pedestrians Thursday in Melbourne, Australia, injuring at least 14 people in a “deliberate act” has a history of drug use and mental illness and was known to police “on historical assault matters,” police said. Two men, including the 32-year-old driver, were taken into custody, police said. The Afghan driver was an Australian citizen. Authorities said there was no evidence or intelligence to indicate that the incident was terror-related, but

they believe the driver carried out the act deliberately.  “We don’t at this time have any evidence or any intelligence to indicate there’s a connection with terrorism,” said Victoria state police acting commissioner Shane Patton. The second man arrested at the scene was filming the attack. He had three knives in his bag — although police believe he is not connected to the attack, Sky News reported. READ MORE

U.S. life expectancy falls for second straight year — as drug overdoses soar

Posted: 21 Dec 2017 05:15 AM PST

U.S. life expectancy falls for second straight year — as drug overdoses soarLife expectancy in the United States fell for the second year in a row in 2016 — and it’s clear the epidemic of drug overdoses is at least in part to blame, government researchers said Thursday. Overall life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell to 78.6 years, a small decline of 0.1 percent, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) team found. At the same time, mortality from drug overdoses rose by 21 percent.

“This was the first time life expectancy in the U.S. has declined two years in a row since declines in 1962 and 1963,” the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.  “The new report shows the decline in life expectancy occurred despite an overall decline in U.S. mortality,” the statement added. Life expectancy is affected by mortality rates, but life expectancy calculations are forward-looking projections, while mortality rates are based on current factors. READ MORE

Ex-Navy pilot describes eerie encounter with UFO

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 07:32 PM PST

Ex-Navy pilot describes eerie encounter with UFOFormer U.S. Navy pilot Cmdr. David Fravor described his eerie encounter with a UFO on Monday, saying it resembled a white Tic Tac and was clearly “not from the Earth.”  “It was a real object, it exists and I saw it,” he told the Washington Post. “Something not from the Earth.” Fravor spotted the flying object on Nov. 14, 2004, after a break in a routine training mission about 60 to 100 miles off the coast between San Diego, California, and Ensenada, Mexico, the newspaper reported. He was searching

for some flying objects that officials had been tracking when he spotted one hovering above the ocean’s surface. It looked like a “white Tic Tac, about the same size as a Hornet, 40 feet long with no wings,” Fravor said. “Just hanging close to the water.”The object didn’t create rotor wash — air turbulence caused by helicopter blades — and mirrored the pilots’ movements as they got closer, then disappeared altogether. READ MORE

We Need to Be Praying for Trump Rather Than Constantly Criticizing Him

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 07:17 PM PST

We Need to Be Praying for Trump Rather Than Constantly Criticizing Him(By Aaron Hall) I think one of the major problems with modern Christianity in America is our quick reaction to criticize someone rather than praying for them. Most Americans don’t know and will likely never personally meet President Trump, yet so many are quick to judge him solely because of what the media filers to our TVs, smartphones and social media newsfeeds. I dare say, we need to be praying for Trump rather than constantly criticizing him.

The Bible says in Romans 13:1b, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Book of Romans, also writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” READ MORE

New Rule Forces Canadian Employers to Affirm Liberal Views on Abortion, LGBT Issues, Critics Say

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 07:13 PM PST

New Rule Forces Canadian Employers to Affirm Liberal Views on Abortion, LGBT Issues, Critics SayEvangelical conservatives and pro-lifers in Canada are voicing concern that a new requirement put in place by the federal government would force organizations to “attest” to liberal beliefs on abortion and LGBT rights in order to receiving funding to give kids summer jobs. Pro-lifers and social conservatives are speaking out against a new rule that has been enacted to a federal program to help local small businesses, nonprofits and charities provide summer jobs to over 70,000 students nationwide.

The government run by liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enacted a new rule requiring that all organizations that apply to receive funds from the Canadian Summer Jobs program prove they don’t violate Canadian Charter Rights, “reproductive rights” and the “right to be free from discrimination” on the basis of social identifiers such as sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. “CSJ applicants will be required to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights,” an application for the 2018 CSJ program reads.  READ MORE

UN General Assembly to hold rare emergency session after US vetoes Jerusalem resolution

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 07:04 PM PST

UN General Assembly to hold rare emergency session after US vetoes Jerusalem resolutionThe UN General Assembly will hold a special session on Thursday, following a request by Arab and Muslim states. The countries have cited the US decision to veto a draft resolution on the status of Jerusalem. According to Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour, the General Assembly will vote on a draft resolution calling for Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to be withdrawn. The same resolution, put to the UN Security Council, was vetoed by the United States on Monday. The US –

along with Russia, China, the UK, and France – is a permanent member of the Security Council, meaning that resolutions cannot be passed if it exercises its “right to veto.” All other UNSC members voted in favor of the resolution on Monday. The representatives are seeking to invoke UN Resolution 377, known as the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, which is the only way to circumvent a Security Council veto. The resolution states that the assembly can call an emergency special session to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures,” if the Security Council fails to act. READ MORE

 

WAR DRUMS: US commandos train to capture North Korean nukes

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 06:51 PM PST

WAR DRUMS: US commandos train to capture North Korean nukesU.S. military forces reportedly trained earlier this month for a mission that would put them on North Korean soil, with the objective of “infiltrating” and “removing weapons of mass destruction,” according to foreign military sources.  Revealing photos of a recent exercise, dubbed Warrior Strike IX, show a U.S. military unit known as “The Black Jack Brigade” training alongside their South Korean counterparts at Camp Stanley, in Korea.

The pictures were featured in a post on the unit’s Facebook page. The images show soldiers training with night-vision equipment, armored vehicles and full-face protective gear, including gas masks. Descriptions of the event suggest soldiers practiced for eventualities such as transporting injured comrades and capturing combatants. According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, which quoted anonymous military sources, READ MORE

Powerful Principles Regarding Personal Prayer

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 06:22 PM PST

Powerful Principles Regarding Personal Prayer(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, we will show you how the lives of men in the Bible were centered around powerful disciplined lives of prayer. We will reveal the pattern of Jesus and how and why he prayed the way he did. You will discover the necessity and rewards of a devoted prayer life. For the entire message watch the video below:

Why Jesus Could Come Back Sooner Than You Think

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 06:16 PM PST

Why Jesus Could Come Back Sooner Than You Think(By Gary Curtis) I was recently scanning the spines of some of the books on my shelves dealing with eschatology, the study of the end times or the last days. I happened on a 1997 book titled The End by Ed Dobson.  I didn’t remember I had this book about predictive prophecy and pulled it out to scan and review for a few minutes. I discovered the front cover had a subtitle which “said it all”:  “Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000.”  Now, two decades after the original publication date and nearly the same number of years

past the turn-of-century target date, this projected timing of Christ’s coming and the end of the world can be mocked (along with the other Y2K prognostications). However, these future realities cannot be ignored. With the current bellicose threats from the demented dictator of North Korea and his provocative testing of long-range missiles, which could potentially be fixed with nuclear warheads and reach most countries of the Pacific Rim—including highly populated parts of the United States, the world may be closer to “the end” than ever before.  READ MORE

Professing Christian Mother Sues Over ‘Religious Indoctrination’ in Louisiana Public School District

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 05:55 PM PST

Professing Christian Mother Sues Over ‘Religious Indoctrination’ in Louisiana Public School DistrictThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against a school district in Louisiana on behalf of a professing Christian mother who is unhappy that teachers, principals and others in the district have promoted Christianity during school hours and at school events.  “Since enrolling two of her daughters in the Webster Parish School District more than 12 years ago, Plaintiff Christy Cole has become

increasingly alarmed by the pervasive religious indoctrination to which students in the district are subject,” the suit reads. One of her daughters has since graduated and the other is still in high school. “Christy Cole believes her daughter and all students should be able to attend public school without exposure to government-sponsored religious practices and messages, and without harassment for their religious beliefs,” the complaint explains. READ MORE

New children’s book portrays Santa Claus as gay and married to another man

Posted: 20 Dec 2017 05:50 PM PST

New children’s book portrays Santa Claus as gay and married to another manOn CNN’s New Day Sunday, the show devoted a four-minute segment to the new children’s book Santa’s Husband, which portrays Santa Claus as a gay man who gets married to another man. The segment included as guests the author, Daniel Kibblesmith, and illustrator Ashley Quach, with Kibblesmith recalling that he was partially inspired to write the book because of the complaints that are made each

year about a “war on Christmas.”  At 6:12 a.m. ET, CNN co-anchor Christi Paul plugged the interview: “There’s a new children’s book out this Christmas — takes us inside Santa’s wedding. We meet Santa’s husband David. We’re going to talk to the author and illustrator ahead.”  In the second plug at 6:51 a.m. ET, Paul and co-host Victor Blackwell vaguely admitted that some are “not so happy” about the book: 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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Christmas: Not the Beginning of Jesus’ Existence

A frequently heard phrase this time of year is the “birth of Jesus.” And that’s good. But, it’s possible to miscommunicate something essential about Christ. Typically, when we mention someone’s birth, we think of it as the beginning of the individual’s existence. Obviously conception marks the beginning of existence, but for convenience sake (and avoidance of some awkward conversations) we do not celebrate one’s conception day, but birthday. You get the idea. View article →

Source: Christmas: Not the Beginning of Jesus’ Existence

A Christmas REALITY – Mary Needed a Savior!

Just a thought this Christmas season. One of the greatest myths in all of Christendom is that Mary (Miriam) – the young Jewish girl of king David’s line – who gave birth to the Savior of the world was sinless. I myself was taught this as a boy in the Catholic church and it wasn’t till I was born again and started reading the Holy Scriptures for myself that I saw the true folly of such a myth. My dear friends, no greater lie could ever be told or fantasy ever believed! When this lie is embraced it derails the total ETERNAL movement of Almighty God and seeks to make the temporal, fallen and mortal the ETERNAL, RIGHTEOUS and DIVINE (Rom. 10:4). Mary herself testified that she rejoiced in Almighty God her Savior and one does not need a Savior if one is not a sinner (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, 10:2-4, Acts 4:12)! If we let the Holy Scriptures of Almighty God and Mary’s own personal testimony speak to us then this great fantasy of many can NEVER stand.
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Mary herself testified that she rejoiced in Almighty God her Savior and one does not need a Savior if one is not a sinner.
And Mary herself said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate (to look with pity on her vile condition) of his handmaiden (slave): for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation(St. Luke 1:45-49).
Also the Holy Scriptures tell us that Mary offered a burnt offering and a sin offering for an atonement after her purification (Leviticus 12:1-8). If Mary was not a fallen daughter fallen of Adam she would not have needed to offer an offering of sin.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons (St. Luke 2:22-24).

My dear friends, if you are one who holds to the teaching of the Catholic church on Mary of Nazareth I would like to challenge you to believe Almighty God’s Word and receive the biblical position of Mary and that of salvation (John 1:12, Acts 16:28-30, Romans 6:23, 10:2-4, 1 John 5:13). Mary the young maiden – by faith – trusted in Almighty God for her ETERNAL salvation as a young girl before her angelic visitation and little did she know that she would be the vessel of Almighty God to bring forth the perfect body for her Lamb and propitiation of her soul (John 1:29, John 3:16-17, 36, Rom. 10:2-4, 1 John 2:2, 4:10).

Mary the young maiden – by faith – trusted in Almighty God for her ETERNAL salvation as a young girl before her angelic visitation and little did she know that she would be the vessel of Almighty God to bring forth the perfect body for her Lamb and propitiation of her soul.

The first Christmas two thousand years ago – the young Jewish girl of the tribe of Judea – Mary; was trying to comprehend and take in the wonders of the last nine months (Matt. 1, Luke 2:24-80). Mary was highly favored above all women and was given the Divine assignment to prepare the body for the ETERNAL Spirit of the Son of Almighty God (Isa. 9:6-7, Micah 5:2, John 1:12, Heb. 10). The true servants heart and faith of Mary is to be greatly commended and her exampled followed; but when individuals seek to change her testimony and her witness to fantastic fables they do her and her ETERNAL Savior a great disservice and dishonor.

Mary needed a Savior and believed as the Word of God clearly stated (Lev.). What about you? If Mary was her today she would point you to her God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Messiah to save your soul and give you ETERNAL LIFE (John 3:16-17). What will you do? Will you listen to Biblical Mary or traditional Mary?

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

Source:

Bethel endorsing occultists in ‘sheep’s clothing’ – insight given by an insider from Christalignment.

In the process of writing this article, Jen Hodge has pulled her publicized YouTube videos on P&P, privatized her Facebook wall and ensured that she garnered enough support from Bethel to make herself look legitimate. This to make Christian news sites look fallacious? If she is engaging in cover up – who’s the fake one?

Before reading this article, it is worth seeing how the ChristAlignment ‘coven’ are fruit of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and the Apostolic ministry of Bill Johnson of Bethel.

Bethelgate – looking under the rug of Bethel administration.

In our last article, Jen Hodge protested profusely that her Christian destiny cards were not tarot cards. She has insisted that she hates tarot cards

Hodge connects ChristAlignment to Bethel; Bethel retracts statement.

However, in accusing Christians falsely of simply reading what they want in to her cards, she has altered her website, removing the word ‘tarot’ and other…

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What Michael Brown is hiding from his audience (Part 1): Attacking Christian authors; contends for NAR gospel

THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL:

This year, a controversial book has been published and caused a ruckus in the Christian media scene. The book is called, ‘The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape’. It was written by Brad Christerson and Richard Flory.

Sadly, judging by how they came across in an interview advertising what their book was about, it appears their research into this topic was very poor. The label for this movement did not summarize its identity and purpose the way Wagner did in his titles ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR) or ‘Post denominationalism’. Instead of calling it what Wagner called it, the NAR, Christerson and Flory decided to call the movement the “Independent Network Charismatic” (INC).

You can read an interview they did here:

The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion

Even their back cover suggests that…

View original post 2,935 more words

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Theology of Christmas”

Philippians 2:5-11

Code: B171222

Christ Jesus . . . emptied Himself.

Those words, uttered by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5–7, represent his most mysterious and provocative commentary on God becoming a man.

Theologians refer to Philippians 2:5–11 as the kenosis passage. Christ’s kenosis (derived from kenoō, the Greek word used for “emptied Himself”) has been the source of centuries of theological debate. The theories have been many and varied, as great Christian minds have grappled with the mystery of Christ’s incarnation.

So who exactly was the baby in the manger? And of what exactly had Christ emptied Himself in taking on human flesh? Those questions take on a massive weight of importance for all who desire to worship the Lord in truth. And John MacArthur answers them in his sermon “The Theology of Christmas.”

Of what did He empty Himself? Well, some people might think He emptied Himself of His deity but He didn’t because He couldn’t. That is His nature and His being—His essence. Some think He divested Himself of the form of God and became only a man. That’s not possible either because the very essence of God’s nature is manifest inseparably from its characteristics and attributes. So He didn’t give up His nature as God and He didn’t give up His attributes as God.

Well what did He give up? Of what did He empty Himself? The New Testament lays it out for us. In John 17:4 He said, “Father, give Me back the glory I had with You before the world began.” Christ emptied Himself of His divine glory. He veiled His glory when He came into this world. He set His glory aside and gave up His honor.

“The Theology of Christmas” explores the implications of Christ’s emptying His divine glory while remaining the unchanging, eternal God. John’s message takes you to the theological heart of this reality as found in Philippians 2:5–11.

He lays out a five-point progression that walks you through Christ’s humbling incarnation all the way to His glorious ascension. John points out what Christ’s emptying of Himself entailed: abandoning His heavenly position, accepting the place of a slave, associating with sinful people, adopting a selfless posture, and ultimately ascending back to heaven in His supremacy. That sequence lays out the supreme demonstration of humility.

And it’s a pattern that we are called to follow. If Christ was willing to lay aside His eternal glory, how much less is the price we should pay in dying to ourselves in the service of others? That question captures the massive practical significance found in Philippians 2:5–11 as well. In fact, Paul begins the passage with these words: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Paul then proceeds to describe the unsurpassed humility exemplified by Christ in leaving His heavenly throne to condescend as the servant and Savior of sinful men.

This Christmas, we need to remember that Christ’s incarnation represents our template for serving Christ. Much more than that, our Christlike actions should be fueled by the knowledge that God once dwelled with us in our spiritual squalor in order that we might one day dwell with Him in glory.

John’s message brings these truths to light with great clarity. Click here to watch or listen to “The Theology of Christmas.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B171222
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Why Christ’s birth was an act of war

Wars and rumors of war.

Throughout the world right now, armies are planning and preparing for various military operations. Closer to home, domestic abuse, interpersonal strife, and political injustice continue unabated. Just this week, I learned that a man was shot and nearly killed less than a block from my house.

All that to say, we live in a violent world. And it is right, to pray for, work for, and want for something better. But it is wrong, to think that this sort of violence is new or that God is unaware.

As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9). Injustice, immorality, and bloodshed are as old as sin itself. But just as old is the promise that God will redeem his people and deliver them from the curse of sin.

This was the promise in Genesis 3:15, when God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” And this ancient promise is just as good today as it was 4,000 years before Christ.

A world gone to seed

Indeed, if you’re familiar with the Bible, you know how strange and circuitous God’s story of salvation story is. God did not bring peace to his people in Genesis 4. Rather, he let the world go to seed—literally.

In Genesis 4, Cain killed Abel in cold blood. Theologically speaking, the seed of the serpent killed the seed of the woman. And from this first act of aggression, bloodshed has followed. Yet, in the face of this violence, God chose one people from whom he would bring a peace-maker. Often Israel, like Abel, would find themselves subjected to the serpent’s seed. But at other times, they would themselves become a brood of vipers, earning the divine wrath of God.

This is how Isaiah 59 depicts Jerusalem, when God compares their sin to that of snakes and spiders. And it is this graphic image that Paul applies to the whole world, when he quotes Isaiah 59:6–7 in Romans 3:15–18:

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”

For us who live in the same dark world described in the Bible, we need to remember that this is the backdrop to the birth of Christ.

What Mary Knew

In our commercial age, it is easy for us to let Hallmark movies, white elephant gifts, and other candy-striped decorations shape our vision of Christmas. Accordingly, it’s easy to misread the story of Christ’s birth because of Christmas.

When that happens, we may still use biblical language, but without understanding the whole story, we may miss the meaning. And this is why it is so important to see the warfare imagery attached to Christmas. In Scripture, the birth of Jesus was not a holiday; it was instead the fulfillment of an ancient promise—that God would fight for his people.

In fact, this is what we read in Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55), a song praising God for the way he would exalt the humble and humble the exalted. In her words, there was no sense of saccharine sentimentality, no “Mary did you know?”

What Mary knew was that she lived in a time of intense darkness and political oppression. Thus, the good news of the Messiah included God’s answer to her (people’s) pleas for mercy.

To be sure, the story of Mary and Joseph is not a first-century romance inspired by God. No, as Scripture tells us, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). In a world overrun by injustice, the light of the world came to destroy the darkness.

Thus, to understand Christ’s Incarnation, we must see how his birth inaugurated a military campaign to end all wars. Indeed, this is what Mary’s words mean in Luke 1:51, “He has shown strength with his arm.” For Mary, a woman steeped in the Scripture—her song is a “remake” of Hannah’s song of praise (1 Samuel 2)—she knew that the arm of the Lord would destroy his enemies and save his people.

Her mention of the Lord’s arm reveals her trust in God to save. And like Miriam, she could sing to the Lord for his glorious triumph (Exod. 15:21), even as she awaited its arrival. Indeed, her words reflect her confidence in the Lord’s coming salvation. And we do well to listen to them in concert with the promises of Isaiah.

Isaiah’s Divine Warrior

Depending on how you count, there are at least 12 instances where the arm of the Lord is mentioned in Isaiah. Beginning in Isaiah 30, God promises redemption through his strong arm. For instance, in Isaiah 51:5, 9 the people cry out for the “arm of the Lord” to “awake” and “put on strength.” Then, in answer to that plea, Isaiah 52:10 says, “Yahweh has bared his holy arm before the eyes of the all the nations.” This verse leads into the climactic Suffering Servant passage (Isaiah 52:13–53:12), where again the arm is mentioned in 53:1: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

In these verses, we begin to get the sense that the arm of the Lord, which was a metaphor for God’s strength in Exodus and Deuteronomy, is now coming closer to being a person. This is most clearly foretold in Isaiah 59:16 and 63:5. In the first instance, we see that when the Lord looks on the sins of Jerusalem, he sees no man who will intercede. As Isaiah 59:1–15a indicate, all have sinned; none have made peace in Jerusalem. Therefore, Yahweh promises that he will come and save them.

Verse 16 says, “his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.” Like in Isaiah 40:11, the arm of the Lord is more than a metaphor. It (or he) becomes the actor who will judge wickedness and save those who cry out for mercy. In this context, verse 17 says the Lord (or is it his arm?) will clothe himself in military regalia: “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.”

Outfitted in this armor, verses 18–19 further the image of judgment, but verse 20 returns to the main point: the Lord himself is going to come to Zion and redeem his people, those who call out for God to have mercy on their sin.

This is the main thrust of section, which portrays God as Divine Warrior. Only God as Divine Warrior would not come merciless vengeance. Instead, Isaiah 59 tells us what the rest of Isaiah has been forecasting: the Lord is going to bring salvation by coming himself (Isaiah 7:14), as a humble son of David (Isaiah 9:6–7), filled with the Spirit (Isaiah 11:1–5; 42:1–4; 61:1–4), so that he can lay down his life for his people (Isaiah 52:13–53:12), thus inaugurating a new covenant (Isaiah 54–55; 59:21).

Pastor, Preach this message on Christmas

At Christmas, this is the message we need to hear. Jesus did not come to pay for a holiday season; he came to proclaim peace to those far and near, to eliminate public injustice, and to expiate personal sin. Indeed, because we still await the return of Jesus, we do not yet see all things put under his feet (Heb. 2:8). But by promise of God’s unfailing word (Isa. 40:8), we have unparalleled confidence that what Isaiah foretold and what Mary sung is what we can believe too—that the bells we hear on Christmas, like the bells on the priests clothes, beckon to look forward to the day when the Prince of Peace will establish peace on earth.

This is the sentiment which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow captured long ago. When considering the mocking sound of Christmas bells in midst of the Civil War, his poem (“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”) captures the tension we feel at Christmas time—joy in the midst of war; light in the face of darkness; thankfulness for what God has done, but longing for the fullness of kingdom to come.

At Christmas, this is the battle that rages in our world and in our souls. It is the battle that spans from Genesis to Revelation, and it is a battle whose happy ending comes in the resurrection and return of Jesus Christ. For truly the baby born in the manger was not given to us as a sentimental token of God’s love. Much better, he is the Lord incarnate—the Divine Warrior wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The post Why Christ’s birth was an act of war appeared first on Southern Equip.

Listen To These Timeless Christmas Poems, Essays, And Speeches

On this special edition of The Federalist Radio Hour, Ben Domenech, publisher of the Federalist, reads some of the most well-known writings of the Christmas season, as well a several lesser known poems and speeches from our country’s past.

“Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.”
-G.K. Chesterton

Listen to Christmas addresses from Churchill, Reagan, and Coolidge, as well as classic poems and essays from Chesterton, Dickens, Bohoeffer, R. C. Sproul and more.

Listen and subscribe here: http://thefederalist.com/2017/12/22/listen-timeless-christmas-poems-essays-speeches/

The ‘Bethel Board’-Encounter God With This New Game! (No, it’s NOT a Ouija Board, You Religious Pharisee)

Is there a link between Bethel Church in Redding CA and occultism as some discernment ministries have been reporting (here)? Steven Kozar of Messed Up Churchpresents the shocking evidence that the claims made by discerners are indeed true. Here’s Kozar’s report:

We all know how important it is to have massive encounters with God, right? Well, now it can be fun, too! Introducing the brand new board game from Bethel Church in Redding, California: “The Bethel Board!” (And it’s just in time for Christmas!) View article →

Source: The ‘Bethel Board’-Encounter God With This New Game! (No, it’s NOT a Ouija Board, You Religious Pharisee)

December 22, 2017 This ‘n’ That

  • There will be peace on earth one day.
  • Assurance, good works, and sovereign grace.
  • The first Christmas was perfectly timed.
  • What a privilege it is to know the perfect Priest!
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Christmas reminds and teaches us about humility.
  • So…how do we apply what we’ve learned from the Bible?
  • Aw, that’s so sweet!
  • We need senior saints in our churches. This article encourages them to keep serving, but I would encourage the younger generations to not neglect those with gray hair.
  • I used to love The X-Files when I was younger.
  • Jesus is our Prince of Peace.
  • I’ve always liked this song.
  • Who should come and worship?
  • Christ was born for more than death.
Think of it, the infant in the manger is the infinite one. …Why this individual is not simply an eternal being, he’s the parent of eternity. All time proceeds from him, and he’s the author of it. And, of course, being the “Everlasting Father,” the parent of eternity means that he is the life giver himself. …He’s the one who is the “Everlasting Father,” the Father of eternity. —S. Lewis Johnson

December 22, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Power to Free Men from the World’s Bondage

through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (6:14b)

The first reason Paul gives for his glorying in the cross is its power to free him from bondage to the world system of evil. The world translates kosmos (the opposite of kaos, from which we get the English chaos) and speaks of an ordered system. Our word cosmetic (derived from kosmos) has the basic meaning of covering up disorder with something that brings order. In the New Testament, kosmos refers to the order of the evil world system ruled by Satan and his agents (see John 12:31; 14:30; 1 Cor. 2:6, 8; Eph. 2:2). The life of a person apart from Jesus Christ is the life of a victim of that system. It is a meaningless life, a life with no hopeful plan, purpose, or reason for being. It is also a life ruled by the flesh, which naturally and inevitably follows the system of evil promoted by the world, whether in gross immorality or simply in day-to-day self-gratification.

The person without Christ is often haunted by the past. He cannot free himself from the guilt of things he has done and failed to do. Yet he has no way of relieving his guilt or his anxiety. He is often enthralled with the future, continually expecting tomorrow to bring better things and more meaning; but it never does, and life becomes a pile of frustrated dreams. Or he may decide hedonistically to live just for the day, taking all he can while he can. Because physical life is all he can see or cares about, he declares with ancient Greeks who denied the resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). In one way or another, every unbeliever is in bondage to the futilities and frustrations of the world.

The person who belongs to Jesus Christ, however, is freed from the world’s evil and hopelessness. He knows that his past, present, and future sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, that his present life is in the Holy Spirit’s care and strength, and that his future life is as secure in heaven as if he were already there. Everything a believer ultimately treasures is in heaven. His heavenly Father is there, his Savior is there, his eternal home is there, and his reward is there. His greatest hopes are there and, although they are yet to be realized, they are assured and secured by the Lord. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus,” Paul declares (Phil. 1:6).

But a believer’s blessings are not all in the future. In this present life he has the awareness of God’s presence and love and peace, the consciousness that God is alive and that he himself is alive because of what Christ accomplished on the cross on his behalf. He knows that he has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world, [to] be holy and blameless before Him,” in love “predestined … to adoption as [a son] through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” and that he has “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of [his] trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3–8).

In light of the immeasurable blessings of the cross, Paul therefore says, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. As noted earlier, kosmos (world) here refers to Satan’s spiritual system under which humanity is now in bondage because of sin. In a more specific aspect it refers to Satan’s vast system of false religions, all of which are grounded in human merit and works righteousness. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” John declares (1 John 5:19). Whether a person is religious or atheistic or agnostic, if he does not know Christ he is captive to the satanic system of the world. Reminding them of their pre-Christian lives, Paul told the Ephesians, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1–3).

The world is corrupt (2 Pet. 1:4) and is going to be judged (1 Cor. 11:32), and everyone who is identified with that system is corrupt and will be judged with it. But the Christian is freed from the world’s corruption and judgment. The idea of the world and the believer being crucified to each other means they are dead to each other. As in the case of the flesh being crucified (5:24), it does not mean the world has no more influence over the believer, but that its dominion is broken and he is no longer in total bondage to it. The death blow has been dealt to the world system, so that soon it will not exist at all. It is still in the throes of dying, and it can still touch the believer with its corruption. In the meanwhile, the Christian’s citizenship is no longer in the evil world system but “in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20–21).

“I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world,” Jesus prayed to His Father. “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word.… And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.… I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:6, 11, 15–16).

The phrase the world has been crucified to me also relates to the believer’s spiritual position before God, to the historical fact of his trusting in Christ for salvation and his spiritual union with Christ through His death on the cross. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world,” John tells us, “and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5). When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, sin becomes a dead issue, the law becomes a dead issue, and the world becomes a dead issue.

In light of the specific danger of the Judaizers, Paul was saying, in effect, “That part of the world system called Judaism is crucified to me and I to Judaism. It is dead to me and I am dead to it. We no longer have any part in each other.” Whatever the particular manifestation of the world system a person is trapped in, his only escape is through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through which he becomes dead to his old life and his old life becomes dead to him. “Our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6–7).

The phrase and I to the world relates to the Christian’s practical living before God. The faithful believer has no more compelling interest in the things of the world, though he still falls prey to its lusts. Just as they have become dead to him, he becomes dead to them. Obviously it makes no sense to associate with a corpse, which is the reason Paul asked the Colossians, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?… If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 2:20–22; 3:1–3).[1]


14 Paul has just expressed what he considers to be improper or misguided boasting. Now he suggests where appropriate boasting or exultation should center: “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Ro 5:3–5, 11; 1 Co 1:18–31). It is only in the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that redemption is to be found; it cannot come by circumcision as a means of law observance (cf. 2:16–21). Focusing on the cross ends all forms of legalistic observance, as Paul has maintained throughout this letter to the Galatians (1:4; 2:20; 3:1, 13; 6:12, 14). Thus, contrary to the base motivations of the Judaizers, who want only to advance their own cause among their Jewish brethren by means of “capturing” these Gentiles, Paul boasts in the very thing that brings him persecution (cf. 1:10; 5:11; 6:12), and the only thing that brings one into reconciliation with the one true and living God. Further, identification with Jesus and his cross brings one into different relationship to the world (kosmos, GK 3180). In Christ, this “mode of life which is characterized by earthly advantages, viewed as obstacles to righteousness” (Burton, 354), this world system with its claims to one’s time and energy and its supposed entitlements and position is “crucified” to the believer and the believer crucified to it. This is not to suggest that Paul means a distancing oneself from the physical world, an opting out of involvement with God’s material creation. Rather, what Paul has in mind is a disengagement from human power structures or from wealth sinfully used as a means to advance one’s own agenda at the expense of others around you (cf. Mk 10:42).[2]


Glorying in the cross (v. 14)

What a striking contrast the apostle Paul presents: ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v. 14). What for others was an object of loathing and disgust was for Paul a thing in which to glory. Not so much in the cross itself, of course—it was nothing but a piece of wood—but in the amazing death that took place on it and the amazing person whose death it was. The object of Paul’s glorying was the crucified Jesus, the Son of God who loved him and gave himself for him (2:20). The cross of Jesus—in this sense—was what Paul trusted in, rejoiced in, revelled in, lived for. It filled his horizons, engrossed his attention, and absorbed his time and energy. It was, in an entirely healthy sense, his obsession. And rightly so! Whether we consider the exaltedness of the sufferer, the wonder of his love, the perfection of his atonement, its worldwide scope, or the greatness of the salvation that has come to us through it, there is nothing more reasonable or right than that we should ‘glory … in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (KJV). It truly is the very heart of Christianity.

Paul goes on to tell us how the Saviour’s cross had entirely changed his relationship to the world: ‘through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ (v. 14). ‘World’ here does not mean the created universe. Far from dealing a death-blow to our relationship to the physical world, our union with the crucified Christ actually enhances our enjoyment of it:

Heaven above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green;

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen:

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow

Flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

No one has a truer, deeper appreciation of the created order than the Christian who sees in it the Father’s world and is constantly moved to worship by its magnificence and beauty.

So what, then, does Paul mean by ‘the world’? He is thinking about a human society that is aligned with the evil one, is under the dominion of sin, and is thoroughly anti-God in its thinking, practices, and religion. To that world Paul, and every other true believer, has been ‘crucified’. We no longer share its outlook, live by its principles, adopt its philosophies, love the things it loves, or take its idols for our gods. Through union with the Christ who died for us our relationship to it has entirely changed. We still live in it, but we are no longer of it. Grace has made us citizens of heaven. As a consequence, our attention is now engrossed and our lives and worship shaped by the values, religion, interests, laws, and God of that altogether different and better world.

And we are thankful! For although we feel the pull of the world and confess with shame its continuing power to attract us and to tempt us, we do not want to be of it as we were before. It is a world in rebellion against God, bearing its citizens to destruction, and we are glad that through the cross of our Redeemer we have for ever escaped its corrupting and damning influences.[3]


6:14 Paul’s ground for boasting is not in the flesh of men, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. On that cross the world died to Paul and Paul to the world. When a man is saved, the world says goodbye to him, and he says goodbye to the world. He is spoiled as far as the world is concerned because he is no longer interested in its fleeting pleasures; the world has lost its attraction for him, because he has found One who completely satisfies. Findlay says: “He can never believe in it, never take pride in it, nor do homage to it any more. It is stripped of its glory and robbed of its power to charm or govern him.” Thus the cross is a great barrier or dividing line between the world and the child of God.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Galatians (pp. 206–209). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Rapa, R. K. (2008). Galatians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 637–638). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Campbell, D. (2009). Opening Up Galatians (pp. 119–121). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1897). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

DECEMBER 22 THE WORD MADE FLESH

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:17

I have given much thought and contemplation to the sweetest and tenderest of all of the mysteries in God’s revelation to man—the Incarnation! Jesus, the Christ, is the Eternal One, for in the fullness of time He humbles Himself. John’s description is plain: The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

I confess that I would have liked to have seen the baby Jesus. But the glorified Jesus yonder at the right hand of the Majesty on high was the baby Jesus once cradled in the manger straw. Taking a body of humiliation, He was still the Creator who made the wood of that manger, made the straw, and was Creator of all the beasts that were there.

In truth, He made the little town of Bethlehem and all that it was. He also made the star that lingered over the scene that night. He had come into His own world, His Father’s world. Everything we touch and handle belongs to Him. So we have come to love Him and adore Him and honor Him!

Lord, You became so vulnerable for us by becoming a helpless baby. Thank You for Your intentional humility. Even in Your birth You showed us how to sacrifice what is rightly ours for the benefit of others. Help me to apply this lesson in my own life so that I will become more like You.[1]


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

December 22 God’s Kingdom Is Priceless

… finding one pearl of great value.—Matt. 13:46a

Job’s ancient description of humanity’s relentless quest for wealth sounds amazingly up-to-date:

Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow. He sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing to and fro far from men … Its rocks are the source of sapphires, and its dust contains gold.… He hews out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious. (Job 28:3–4, 6, 10)

For all the efforts to mine and process precious metals and gems, none of those riches offers anything of lasting value (cf. Job 28:12–15, 21, 23, 28).

The blessing of being a kingdom citizen—a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ—is truly priceless and more valuable than all the world’s greatest riches combined. That citizenship is so incomparable because it is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). This heavenly inheritance includes the unsurpassed, divine spiritual blessings of forgiveness, love, peace, purity, righteousness, eternal life, and more.

Even with its priceless nature and ultimate value, God offers His kingdom to any person who surrenders all, repents, and trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior. Whatever values a man or woman has clung to in the past, God will happily exchange for the priceless kingdom treasure.

ASK YOURSELF

Are you in one of those phases of life in which Christianity feels like all cost and little return? Reflect today on the treasures of faith. Ask God to bring them to mind whenever you get discouraged or weary of the battle. They are worth much, much more than the price of admission.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 365). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 22 No Other Name

There is no other name under heaven.

Acts 4:12

The angel that appeared to Joseph emphasized the meaning of Jesus’ name: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus, from the Hebrew Joshua, or Jehoshua, means “Jehovah will save.” The name itself was a testimony to God’s salvation. But, the angel told Joseph, Mary’s Son would be the very embodiment of Jehovah’s salvation. He Himself would save His people from their sins.

After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, speaking before the Sanhedrin, also emphasized the importance of Jesus’ name: “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).[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 383). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 22, 2017 Birth Announcement, Part 5

By James Boice on Dec 22, 2017 12:00 am

We come now to the fifth Old Testament prophecy, which is Daniel 9:25-26a. This text fixes the very time in history when the Messiah was to be born: “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” Verse 26 concludes by going on to give some more detail.

Read more…

December 22, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

The Posture

Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (5:12)

The believer’s response to persecution and affliction should not be to retreat and hide. To escape from the world is to escape responsibility. Because we belong to Christ, we are no longer of this world, but He has sent us into this world to serve just as He Himself came into this world to serve (John 17:14–18).

His followers are “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). For our salt to flavor the earth and our light to lighten the world we must be active in the world. The gospel is not given to be hidden but to enlighten. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (vv. 15–16).

When we become Christ’s salt and Christ’s light, our salt will sting the world’s open wounds of sin and our light will irritate its eyes that are used to darkness. But even when our salt and light are resented, rejected, and thrown back in our face, we should rejoice, and be glad.

Be glad is from agalliaō, which means to exult, to rejoice greatly, to be overjoyed, as is clear in the King James Version, “be exceeding glad.” The literal meaning is to skip and jump with happy excitement. Jesus uses the imperative mood, which makes His words more than a suggestion. We are commanded to be glad. Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient.

The world can take away a great deal from God’s people, but it cannot take away their joy and their happiness. We know that nothing the world can do to us is permanent. When people attack us for Christ’s sake, they are really attacking Him (cf. Gal. 6:17; Col. 1:24). And their attacks can do us no more permanent damage than they can do Him.

Jesus gives two reasons for our rejoicing and being glad when we are persecuted for His sake. First, He says, your reward in heaven is great. Our present life is no more than “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14); but heaven is forever. Small wonder that Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures for ourselves here on earth, “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:19–20). Whatever we do for the Lord now, including suffering for Him-in fact, especially suffering for Him-reaps eternal dividends.

God’s dividends are not ordinary dividends. They are not only eternal but are also great. If God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), how much more abundantly is He able to grant what He Himself promises to us?

We often hear, and perhaps are tempted to think, that it is unspiritual and crass to serve God for the sake of rewards. But that is one of the motives that God Himself gives for serving Him. We first of all serve and obey Christ because we love Him, just as on earth He loved and obeyed the Father because He loved Him. But it was also because of “the joy set before Him” that Christ Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). It is neither selfish nor unspiritual to do the Lord’s work for a motive that He Himself gives and has followed.

Second, we are to rejoice because the world persecuted the prophets who were before us in the same way that it persecutes us. When we suffer for Christ’s sake, we are in the best possible company. To be afflicted for righteousness’s sake is to stand in the ranks of the prophets. Persecution is a mark of our faithfulness just as it was a mark of the prophets’ faithfulness. When we suffer for Christ’s sake we know beyond a doubt that we belong to God, because we are experiencing the same reaction from the world that the prophets experienced.

When we suffer for our Lord we join with the prophets and the other saints of old who “experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Heb. 11:36–38). Though the world is not worthy of their company, every persecuted believer is. To be persecuted verities that we belong to the line of the righteous.

Our assurance of salvation does not come from knowing we made a decision somewhere in the past. Rather, our assurance that the decision was a true decision for Jesus Christ is found in the life of righteousness that results in suffering for the sake of Christ. Many will claim to have preached Christ, cast out demons, and done mighty works for His sake, but will be refused heaven (Matt. 7:21–23). But none who have suffered righteously for Him will be left out.

The world cannot handle the righteous life that characterizes kingdom living. It is not understandable and acceptable to them, and they cannot stomach it even in others. Poverty of spirit runs counter to the pride of the unbelieving heart. The repentant, contrite disposition that mourns over sin is never appreciated by the callous, indifferent, unsympathetic world. The meek and quiet spirit that takes wrong and does not strike back is regarded as pusillanimous, and it rasps against the militant, vengeful spirit characteristic of the world. To long after righteousness is repugnant to those whose fleshly cravings are rebuked by it, as is a merciful spirit to those whose hearts are hard and cruel. Purity of heart is a painful light that exposes hypocrisy and corruption, and peacemaking is a virtue praised by the contentious, self-seeking world in words but not in heart.

John Chrysostom, a godly leader in the fourth-century church preached so strongly against sin that he offended the unscrupulous Empress Eudoxia as well as many church officials. When summoned before Emperor Arcadius, Chrysostom was threatened with banishment if he did not cease his uncompromising preaching. His response was, “Sire, you cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will slay you,” Arcadius said. “Nay, but you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” came the answer. “Your treasures will be confiscated” was the next threat, to which John replied, “Sire, that cannot be, either. My treasures are in heaven, where none can break through and steal.” “Then I will drive you from man, and you will have no friends left!” was the final, desperate warning. “That you cannot do, either,” answered John, “for I have a Friend in heaven who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ ” Chrysostom was indeed banished, first to Armenia and then farther away to Pityus on the Back Sea, to which he never arrived because he died on the way. But neither his banishment nor his death disproved or diminished his claims. The things that he valued most highly not even an emperor could take from him.[1]


How to Rejoice in Persecutions

Matthew 5:12

The most striking part of Christ’s eighth and last beatitude is the command that the Christian is to rejoice in persecutions: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” How puzzling! For these questions immediately arise in the mind of any thoughtful reader: “How are we to rejoice in persecutions? How does one rejoice when unjustly insulted, scorned, or condemned?” These are valid questions, and the answer is well worth pondering. How does a Christian rejoice in persecutions?

I am convinced that the only valid answer to that question is—by knowledge.

Knowledge

In order to understand this it is necessary to recognize that some battles in the Christian life can be won in no other way than by knowledge—not by reason, not by feelings, but by knowledge.

A young man goes to college and meets a girl with whom he falls in love and whom he would like to marry but who is not a Christian. He wants to marry her, but he should not. The Holy Spirit within him is telling him so. As a result a terrific battle is in progress. How is he to win it? Well, it is certain that he will never win it by trusting his feelings, for his feelings are what have created the problem in the first place. He will not win it by reason, for the human mind is subtle, and he will always find ten reasons why he should marry her for every one why he should not. Neither can he win the battle by trusting his conscience. The human conscience can be bent to do almost anything we want it to do; in this case it can even be bent to immorality. There is only one way in which the young man will win the victory in this situation, and that is by clinging to the knowledge of God’s will that he has received from Scripture. He must say, “Lord, I do not want to give this particular girl up. I can think of a dozen reasons why I do not need to give her up. I can even make my conscience tell me that I should not give her up. But I know that I must. And because of that I will do it.” The young man must make an intellectual decision. And this means that, apart from any other factor, he must determine simply to walk in the way that he knows God would have him to go.

It is exactly the same when a Christian is in the midst of persecution. And what is more, almost every verse in the Bible that refers to persecution implies this. If you are enduring persecution, perhaps from your friends or your family, you dare not trust your feelings. There are times when Christians feel on top of the world even when they are suffering. But this is not always true. It is just as probable, perhaps more so, that the Christian will feel sad and dejected, as Elijah did under the juniper tree. If you trust your feelings, you will rejoice at best only at times and then only partially.

Neither can you trust your reason, for the reasoning power of a Christian is often that which is most shaken in the midst of persecution. Have you ever noticed how the apostle Paul described his mental state in the midst of his many persecutions? He writes about it in 2 Corinthians, telling us that confusion of his reason was at least part of the problem. He says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8–9). Along with being troubled, persecuted, and cast down, Paul also says that he was often perplexed. And hence he had learned that he could not trust even his own great powers of reason in the midst of troubles and persecutions.

If we cannot trust our feelings and if we cannot trust our reason, what can we Christians trust in order that we might rejoice in persecutions? We can only trust the knowledge that we have of God’s purposes in persecution and his control of suffering. And this is a knowledge gained only through Scripture. The victory is intellectual. It is only knowledge that will calm the Christian’s troubled heart and allow the supernatural joy of God’s Spirit to triumph in the midst of his suffering.

Identity with Christ

What are the things that a Christian can know that allow him to rejoice in persecutions? There are at least five. The first one is this: The Christian must know that through persecutions God is demonstrating his identity with Christ. This is the point of all the verses that teach that if we suffer with Christ we also shall be glorified with him. And it is behind Christ’s observation in our text, “For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We can see an example of this in what it means to be an American today in areas of the Near East where America’s present foreign policy is disliked and sometimes hated. Several years ago I was present in one of the Near Eastern countries in the company of two friends. One of them was another American with whom I had journeyed around the better part of the Mediterranean. The other was a Christian pastor who was born and raised in that country. We Americans thought very little of things we were doing as we toured the sights, but some of those things, although innocent in themselves, worried him. There were places where he did not want us to linger, objects we were not to photograph, subjects that he did not want us to speak about in public. In answer to our confused questions he explained that at the moment anti-American feeling was running high and that an innocent act, however well motivated, might be dangerously misconstrued. He said that this strong feeling was not directed so much against us personally as against our nation.

In just the same way the world always will be bitterly opposed to Jesus Christ and to his foreign policy, and it will hate his ambassadors. To the citizens of “his country,” however, the persecution will merely be evidence of their identification with him. They will know that it places them in the great company of those who have been similarly persecuted, and the persecution itself will be a matter of honor.

It was this knowledge that gave joy to the first Christians ever to be persecuted. They were Peter and John, and perhaps some of the other apostles, and they were beaten for the sake of their testimony in Jerusalem. We read, however, that after they were beaten, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:41–42). Persecution is evidence of the believer’s identification with his Lord.

Purification

The second part of a Christian’s knowledge that will help him to rejoice in persecution is the knowledge that God often uses persecution to perfect the believer. In the great wisdom of God, persecution is often the means by which the Christian is helped along the road to practical holiness and thereby made a little more like Jesus.

Peter knew this. He had known it personally, and he had seen it in the lives of his converts. Hence, when he wrote his first letter to those in Asia who were experiencing persecution, he wrote this about it: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:6–8). Peter was saying that for the Christian, persecution (and also suffering in general) is the crucible in which God the refiner purifies us and removes the dross from our lives.

Let me give you another illustration. Dr. Billy Graham tells of a friend of his who went through the Depression in the 1920s, losing a job, a fortune, a wife, and a home. But he was a believer in Jesus Christ, and he tenaciously held to his faith even though he was naturally depressed and cast down by circumstances. One day in the midst of his depression he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church in the city. One was busy chiseling a triangular piece of stone. “What are you going to do with that?” he asked. The workman stopped and pointed to a little opening near the top of the spire. “See that little opening up there near the spire?” he said. “Well, I’m shaping this down here so that it will fit in up there.” The friend said that tears filled his eyes as he walked away from the workman, for it seemed that God had spoken to him personally through the workman telling him that God was shaping him for heaven through his ordeal.

Peter said, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10–11). David tells us in one of the Psalms that before he was afflicted he went astray but that after the affliction he kept God’s word (Ps. 119:67). Most certainly, persecution was a significant factor in the spiritual growth of each of these men. Persecution is also a factor in God’s dealings with his children today. Because of this truth we may face persecution with all joy, knowing that after we have gone through its furnace we shall be more like Jesus, our Savior.

Radiant Christianity

The third truth that will help a Christian to rejoice in persecution is the truth that persecution allows the Christian an opportunity to show forth the supernatural radiance of the Christian life. If everything is going well with you and you rejoice, what makes you different from the nonbelievers who are in the world? Nothing at all! They too rejoice when circumstances are favorable. If you are able to rejoice when things are not favorable, however, then Jesus Christ may be clearly seen in you, and the supernatural power of the Christian faith is made manifest. Persecution is the dark background for the supernatural radiance of this life.

Again, this truth is best illustrated by a story. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Mathews and their daughter Lilah were the last missionary family of the China Inland Mission to leave China after the Communist takeover at the end of the Second World War, and the story of their last two years in China is one of great persecution. For the better part of their two-year captivity in China they lived in one small room. Their only furniture was a stool. They could not contact their Christian friends for fear of subjecting them to reprisals for befriending aliens. Their funds were cut off by the government except for the smallest trickle. The only heat they had came from a small stove which they lit only once each day to boil rice for dinner. Even the fuel which they used was made by Mr. Mathews from the refuse that animals deposited around the streets. For a time the couple submitted to the treatment stoically, asking all the while that God would soon deliver them from China. At last a turning point came in their outlook. They realized that Jesus Christ had come from heaven, not merely submitting to the will of his Father, but delighting in it. And they saw that their own experience was comparable. It was an opportunity for the radiance of joyful obedience to be manifested in them and in which their conduct could be a supernaturally effective witness. After this they came to rejoice and even to sing hymns. And they came to accept the privilege of suffering for the sake of Christ with as much joy as they later experienced when they learned of their pending deliverance.

It was a similar knowledge of the opportunities afforded by persecution that taught Hugh Latimer to cry out to Nicholas Ridley as they were both led to the stake in Oxford, England, in 1555, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out.” And he was right. For the behavior of Christians in persecutions was then and often still is a great testimony to God’s grace.

Rewards in Heaven

There are two more truths that a Christian should also know in order that he may rejoice in persecutions. The first is the promise of rewards. Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12).

There are many Christians who consider even the thought of rewards to be ignoble. But that is because they are thinking only of material or self-exalting things. Actually, the rewards are far more likely to be spiritual—fellowship with Christ and proximity to him—and they cannot be the least bit self-exalting, for even they flow from God’s grace. Do not make your Christianity something so ethereal that you think your conduct should be above the thought of rewards. That is not how the believers of other ages prospered. Abraham looked for a city, with foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season because “he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb. 11:26). Even Jesus “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, … and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He said, “Rejoice … for great is your reward in heaven.”

Finally, the Christian can rejoice in the knowledge that the Lord Jesus himself is particularly near him in the moment of severe persecution. Do you remember the story of the three Hebrew young men who were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace? Their names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, whom the king named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three men! But when the king looked into the furnace he said, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? … Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Dan. 3:24–25). In the same way Jesus Christ is particularly near those who are persecuted for his sake, and they can have great joy in this knowledge.

Victory in Persecution

When a Christian can anchor himself in a knowledge of the five great truths that have just been explained, persecution can result in rejoicing. And the rejoicing will—this is the culminating point—lead to greater knowledge.

Job knew suffering and great persecution. But he triumphed through knowledge, and the persecution itself led on to more knowledge. At the beginning Job knew that he had nothing in himself and that he had no rights at all before God. When God allowed the most severe blows of life to fall upon him, Job thrived in the knowledge that there was yet the corresponding grace of God and the inextinguishable love of God for himself. As the trials continued, he came to know that God was testing him and purifying his faith, and he rejoiced in that knowledge. Finally, he learned that God was revealing himself to him in a new way, and he came to expect an even fuller revelation. For Job, knowledge was the key to spiritual victory and his knowledge actually grew because of it. So should it be for every persecuted Christian.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 231–233). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Sermon on the Mount: an expositional commentary (pp. 55–60). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

DECEMBER 22 SILENCE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.

—Psalm 4:4

The Bible and Christian biography make a great deal of silence, but we of today make of it exactly nothing….

At the risk of being written off as an extremist or a borderline fanatic we offer it as our mature opinion that more spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study. While our mental powers are in command there is always the veil of nature between us and the face of God. It is only when our vaunted wisdom has been met and defeated in a breathless encounter with Omniscience that we are permitted really to know, when prostrate and wordless the soul receives divine knowledge like a flash of light on a sensitized plate. The exposure may be brief, but the results are permanent. ROR168-169

Today, Lord, I long for that moment of silence in Your majestic presence. Speak, Lord, in this stillness. Amen.[1]


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

December 22 Submitting to Christ as Lord

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name … that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Philippians 2:9, 11

✧✧✧

To receive Christ as Savior is to submit to His authority as Lord.

Is Jesus Lord? According to the declaration of the Father, He is. We cannot know Him any other way than as Lord. That’s why the first creed in the history of the church, given in Philippians 2:11, says, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every Christian must acknowledge that. It is the foundation of the Christian faith, the very substance of what we believe. We don’t make Him Lord after salvation. Every time I hear someone say, “You need to make Jesus Lord,” it is as repellent to me as hearing fingernails scraped down a blackboard. We never make Jesus Lord—God has already done that.

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and those who would receive Him must take Him for who He really is. Puritan John Flavel put it this way: “The gospel offer of Christ includes all his offices, and gospel faith just so receives him; to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him; to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a similar vein, A.W. Tozer said, “To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching, for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the Person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.” Jesus is Lord, and if you refuse Him as Lord, you cannot call Him Savior. If you have truly received Him, your life will be characterized by submission to His authority.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Take time to acknowledge the lordship of Christ in your own life.

For Further Study: Read Romans 10:9–13. What is a sinner to confess if he is to be saved? ✧ According to 2 Corinthians 4:5, what message did Paul preach?[1]


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