Daily Archives: December 26, 2017

December 26 Born to Die

“We … see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one” (Heb. 2:9).

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Jesus Christ was born to die as our substitute.

At this time of year, it is difficult for us to see Jesus other than as a little baby. We, of course, know why He came, but we usually focus on His death on the cross at another time of year. But we must never forget that He came to die.

Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made to have two great nails hammered through them. Those little chubby feet were made to walk up a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sacred head was made to wear a crown of thorns. His tender body wrapped in swaddling clothes would be pierced by a spear to reveal a broken heart. The death of Christ was no accident; He was born to die.

Jesus died to remove the curse so we could regain our dominion. But to do that, He had to come as a man. Even though in doing so He temporarily became lower than the angels, He accomplished something no angel could: our restoration.

The first and foremost reason for the Incarnation is that Christ might taste death on behalf of every man and woman. He came to die in our place—to be our substitute. God had two options: Either let us die and pay for our own sins, or allow a substitute to take our punishment and die in our place. He mercifully chose the latter.

It is vital that we affirm the fact of Christ’s substitutionary death because modern liberal theology claims Jesus died merely as an example, like a martyr dying for some cause. But in reality He died as a substitute for you and me. As a result He freed us to live for and with God. Rejoice that the Creator of angels, the Lord of hosts, was willing to become lower than His creation for our sakes.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for His willingness to humble Himself to become a man in order to save you.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 22, and note which verses prophesy Jesus’ suffering on the cross.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 373). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

DECEMBER 26 COMPASSION: IN CHRIST IT WAS FULLY PERFECTED

And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear….

JUDE 22, 23

The word compassion is a vital New Testament word. Do you realize that compassion is an emotional identification, and that Jesus Christ had that in full perfection? The man who has this wound of compassion is a man who suffers along with other people. Jesus Christ our Lord can never suffer to save us any more. This He did, once and for all, when He gave Himself without spot through the Holy Ghost to the Father on Calvary’s cross.

He cannot suffer to save us but He still must suffer to win us. He does not call His people to redemptive suffering for that is impossible; it could not be. Redemption is a finished work!

But He does call His people to feel along with Him and to feel along with those that rejoice and those that suffer. He calls His people to be to Him the kind of an earthly body in which He can weep again and suffer again and love again. For our Lord has two bodies!

One is the body He took to the tree on Calvary; that was the body in which He suffered to redeem us. But He has a body on earth now, composed of those who have been baptized into it by the Holy Ghost at conversion. Paul said he was glad that he could suffer for the Colossians and fill up the measure of the afflictions of Christ in his body for the Church’s sake.

It is in that body now, on earth, that Christ would suffer to win men![1]


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

December 26, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

In 2032, three of the four largest economies will be Asian — China, India and Japan — and, by that time, China will also have overtaken the U.S. to hold the No. 1 spot. India’s advance won’t stop there, according to the CEBR, which sees it taking the top place in the second half of the century.

President Vladimir Putin is using the threat of additional U.S. sanctions to encourage wealthy Russians to repatriate some of their overseas assets, which exceed $1 trillion by one estimate.

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated against government corruption as police move to wrap up an investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on suspicions of bribery.

Japanese workers will see a 1 percent increase in their total earnings next year, the most since 1997, as rising profits and the tightest labor market in decades add upward pressure on pay, a Bloomberg survey shows.

Bank of America Corp. expects to take a roughly $3 billion hit to fourth-quarter net income after the U.S. tax bill slashed corporate rates.

Bitcoin rallied past $15,000 on Tuesday as traders of the world’s biggest digital currency sought to draw a line under its roller coaster five-day slump.

Housing prices in 20 U.S. cities accelerated more than forecast, 6.4% y/y in October, rising by the most since mid-2014 as lean inventories continued to prop up values amid steady demand, S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data showed on Tuesday.

A Chinese central bank official said China should allow local governments to go bankrupt to help rein in regional authorities’ excessive borrowing.

For millions of Americans suffering from debilitating nerve pain, a once-overlooked option has emerged as an alternative to high doses of opioids: implanted medical devices using electricity to counteract pain signals the same way noise-canceling headphones work against sound.

North Korea’s envoy in charge of U.S. affairs at the United Nations demanded Washington provide evidence to back up its claim Pyongyang was behind the Wannacry ransomware attack, an allegation has said was a “baseless provocation” being used to generate tensions.

AP Top Stories

With gifts given and Christmas Day drawing to a close, drone expert Faine Greenwood is taking up a different kind of holiday tradition: rounding up all the spectacular drone crashes and accidents that take place mere hours after the airborne presents are unwrapped.

Syrian army forces backed by Iranian-backed militias pushed deeper into the last rebel-held enclave near a strategic border area with Israel and Lebanon in a new expansion of Tehran’s influence in the war-torn country.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his short-lived resignation in early November under heavy duress from the Saudi Arabian government, according to a New York Times report based on the accounts of Lebanese, Western and regional officials, as well as other figures close to Hariri.

Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a typhoon approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.

Ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and China met in Beijing on Tuesday where they agreed to work together to tackle the threat of terrorism tied to China’s vast western Xinjiang region. The first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers from the countries comes as China steps up its investment in its neighboring nations as part of its trillion-dollar One Belt One Road investment initiative.

Oil moved higher above $65 a barrel on Tuesday, within sight of its highest since mid-2015, supported by an explosion on a crude pipeline in Libya and voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts.

A suicide attacker on foot blew himself up near a compound belonging to the Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul on Monday, killing six civilians, officials said.

China has “reasonably” expanded its islands in the disputed South China Sea and this year construction projects there including radar facilities covered about 72 acres.

BBC

Guatemala is to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first country after the US to vow to do so.

A British frigate shadowed a Russian warship through the North Sea near UK waters on Christmas Day, the Royal Navy has revealed.

Egypt has hanged 15 militants who were convicted of carrying out attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula in 2013, authorities said.

Bruce McCandless, who was captured in a stunning photograph in 1984 as he made the first untethered flight in space, has died aged 80, NASA said.

The Venezuelan government says it is releasing 80 people detained during demonstrations as a Christmas goodwill gesture.

A Chinese amphibious aircraft, the largest in production, has made a successful one-hour maiden flight. The plane, roughly the size of a Boeing 737 but with four turboprop engines can carry 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.

WND

The U.S. military, specifically the Army and Marines, have adopted new procedures within which to fight an “urban” war, where up to 70 percent of the world’s population will live in as little as a couple of decades, explains a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Sunday that the United States negotiated a $285 million cut in the United Nations’ “bloated” budget for next year.


News – 12/26/2017

Abbas spends Christmas Eve meeting with Fatah terrorist
XPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spent part of Christmas eve on Sunday night meeting with a former senior commander of the al-Aksa Martys Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, recently released from prison for plotting a suicide bombing attack against Israel 16 years ago. Rafat Jawabra was received in the PA president’s office on Sunday evening.

Tembin: Storm weakens as it nears southern Vietnam
A tropical storm that was threatening southern Vietnam has weakened and is expected to dissipate within 48 hours. The Weather Prediction Center says Storm Tembin, with wind gusts up to 58mph (93km/h), is 170 miles south-southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, and is moving westward. Nearly a million people were earlier told to prepare for evacuation and some 70,000 were moved from low-lying areas.

HMS St Albans: UK frigate shadows Russian warship in North Sea
A British frigate shadowed a Russian warship through the North Sea near UK waters on Christmas Day, the Royal Navy has revealed. HMS St Albans monitored the Admiral Gorshkov’s “activity in areas of national interest”, it said. The Admiral Gorshkov, a new guided-missile frigate, is still undergoing trials, Russian media report.

Pope laments ‘winds of war’ blowing around the world
Lamenting “the winds of war” blowing around the world, Pope Francis in his traditional Christmas message on Monday called for a two-state solution to find peace in the Middle East and prayed that confrontation can be overcome on the Korean Peninsula. The pope took particular aim at areas of global tension where President Donald Trump is playing a critical role.

Top 10 Prophetic Natural Phenomena of 2017
Divine will is often expressed through natural means and 2017 was an exceptional year, marked by several major hurricanes, earthquakes, and a rare solar eclipse. Most (though not all) of these events could be explained by scientists but a deeper look into their prophetic significance gives a different perspective.

Russian defense minister says establishing permanent presence in Syria
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia has begun establishing a permanent presence at its military bases in Tartus and Hmeimim in Syria, RIA news agency said.

Trump, Jerusalem, Arabs, Muslims
Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city aroused, unsurprisingly, a massive wave of opposition in the Arab and Islamic world for two main reasons – one religious and one nationalist. The religious reason is rooted in Islam’s conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end, inheriting all that was once Jewish or Christian: Land, places of worship and people. In Islam’s worldview, Falestin in its entirely belongs to Muslims alone because both Jews and Christians betrayed Allah when they refused to become followers of His prophet Mohammed, the punishment for that being expulsion from their land and the forfeiture of all rights to it.

2017 – the year the media lost America
Since most people don’t watch CNN (Fox News instead), it came as a shock to find Jake Tapper on our side. Amazing, people said. Tapper roundly supported President Trump and the United States and Israel. Hours after the UN General Assembly voted 128 to 9 in an attempt to isolate the U.S. for declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Tapper editorialized that they were wrong and we were right. This should not be surprising. But coming as it did from a voice at CNN, surprising and amazing. “Tapper spoke true. He is sure to get fired.”

‘If necessary, we will act with force and defeat every enemy’
IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, on Monday presented the annual Chief of Staff Award for outstanding IDF units.
The Chief of Staff turned directly to the commanders and said, “You know more than anybody that we are in the midst of a complex security period in which you are required to take command and have a clear impact on the operational results. The IDF is clearly superior to its enemies, but we are also aware of the real danger of explosiveness on several fronts which requires us to act judiciously, creatively, to initiate and to be daring.”

US Slashes United Nations’ Budget By $285 Million Following “Stunning” Jerusalem Rebuke
“We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked”

Top insider exposes ‘Luciferian’ origin of globalist empire
“Spirit cooking.” Occult imagery outside meetings of the most powerful people in the world. Bizarre rituals held at globally important events. What is going on? What perverted ideology animates those who control our global destiny?

WW3 RED ALERT: Russia’s submarines SWARM Mediterranean Sea at highest rate since Cold War – is Putin preparing for war?
RUSSIAN submarine activity is at its highest levels since the cold war as Putin’s navy develop a stronghold in the mediterranean, it has been revealed.

“Christian Palestininanists” Unable to Establish Beachhead Within Calvary Chapel Movement
…“I’m really shocked…I understand that one of the Calvary Chapels down in the San Diego area is having these fellows who are really friendly to the Palestinian cause, and anti-Israel, and they’re having them to speak there at a church that is affiliated with the Calvary Chapels. I just have such a difficult time with that, to try to understand why a pastor would have an anti-Israel speaker, in these days.”

HELL YEAH: Trump administration to snap ties with ‘Palestinians’, no peace plan, no more monetary aid
The White House has decided to quietly withdraw from all its ties with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel slams PA President Abbas: No, Jesus was not a Palestinian
“He should have read the Gospel before uttering such offensive nonsense, but we will forgive him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel on Monday. Abbas’s ridiculous statement is an “outrageous rewriting of Christian history,” says Palmor.

Prince William argues for urgent depopulation efforts in Africa
Prince William recently warned that the population growth in Africa is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the natural world and driving many species of animals to extinction.

The Number One Enemy of Most Christians Is Their Church
As this Sunday comes and goes, I will not be attending my former church. With a scant few exceptions the church has been invaded in the same manner that our Constitution has been obliterated. Why won’t I be attending my church? Because I want to save my soul for eternity.

‘NSA backdoor spying on US citizens requires stringent controls & accountability’
It’s time to push back on the US government’s “backdoor” spying on its citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and introduce stricter controls to protect civil liberties, attorney Michael Flanagan believes.

December 25, 2017
ALAN KEYES — “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all his work which He, God, created and made.” (Genesis 2: 1-3)… (more)

December 25, 2017

NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump is sending Christmas greetings to U.S. troops stationed around the world. From the Florida estate where Trump is spending the holidays, he spoke by video hook-up on Christmas Eve to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, stationed in Qatar, Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…. (more)


December 25, 2017

NEWSMAX — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Christians around the world a “Merry Christmas.” His comments came in a video posted on his Twitter account. The video showed Netanyahu speaking on Christmas eve from Jerusalem…. (more)


December 25, 2017
THE HILL — President Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended mass Sunday night in Florida on the eve of Christmas. The first couple attended mass at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, arriving after the service had already started, according to a White House pool report…. (more)

December 25, 2017
NEWSMAX — Throughout the 65-year-reign of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II, her annual Christmas Day broadcast in recent years has focused less on her dedication to a life of service and has become more a declaration of her Christian faith…. (more)

December 25, 2017
‘That’s where his allegiance lies. Always has. Always will’
WORLDNETDAILY — Actor James Woods tweeted the once unmentionable over the weekend about Barack Obama. “He is a Muslim,” wrote Woods. “He can deny it, his apologists in the media can refute it, and his enablers can promote a narrative that he is a Christian. It’s a pack of lies. Obama is a Muslim and that is where his allegiance lies. Always has. Always will.”… (more)

December 25, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump announced sanctions Thursday against 13 individuals for humans-rights violations and corruption, including a Myanmar general accused of ethnic cleansing against Muslim minorities. Mr. Trump signed an executive order announcing the new sanctions, which also target 39 entities and individuals under the Global Magnitsky Act. The president declared a national emergency on global corruption and human rights abuses…. (more)


December 24, 2017
NEW YORK POST — President Trump unloaded on Andrew McCabe Saturday amid reports that the embattled FBI deputy director plans to jump from the agency in early March, when he becomes eligible to retire…. (more)

December 23, 2017
BYRON YORK — There are some important things the public doesn’t know about the so-called “Trump dossier,” such as whether the FBI used information from the dossier to win court permission to spy on Americans. But the most important question about the dossier is the simplest: Is it true?… (more)

December 23, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — The FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe testified Tuesday at a marathon seven-hour closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. According to the now-infamous text message sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok to his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, it was in McCabe’s office that top FBI counterintelligence officials discussed what they saw as the frightening possibility of a Trump presidency…. (more)

December 23, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Attorneys for a Russian entrepreneur say they have discovered the source who provided BuzzFeed with the infamous Trump dossier whose unverified charges were embraced by the FBI. They are not disclosing the identity for now…. (more)

December 23, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — A former U.S. Marine’s alleged plan to for a holiday attack on Pier 39 in San Francisco has been foiled after he discussed the plan with an undercover FBI agent. According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in California on Friday, Everitt Aaron Jameson was inspired by the Islamic State…. (more)

December 23, 2017

NATIONAL REVIEW — Nothing has been more tedious over the last year than the constant reminders that good journalism is “now more important than ever.” The implication, of course, is that solid, groundbreaking reporting was not as essential so long as a liberal Democrat was in power. I’ve long assumed that the factotums mouthing such cliches lack the self-awareness to understand the true import of their words. But maybe I’ve been wrong. Recent days brought evidence that, no, liberals really mean it: The only meaningful investigative work is that which reflects poorly on Republicans…. (more)


December 23, 2017

NEWS24 — The United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been pushing back against the UN hard for voting against the President’s Jerusalem decision. “The United States is, by far, the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies,” said Haley in a speech to the UN…. (more)


December 23, 2017

FOX NEWS — Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanded an investigation into prosecutorial misconduct after the Cliven Bundy standoff case was declared a mistrial…. (more)


December 23, 2017
REV. MARK H. CREECH — During Christmas time, my father loved making this season of the year magical for children. As children, every year Daddy would remind my sister and me to put cookies and milk out for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve night. On Christmas morning, I was always giddy with excitement to find an empty plate and glass under the tree next to my toys…. (more)

December 23, 2017
MADELINE CRABB — Recently there have been some pretty adorable TV commercials from a toy retailer showing children performing tasks and doing good deeds for their parents, indicating that the “naughty list” is not an option. This has gotten me to thinking about where the naughty and nice concept originated. Since it is Christmas time, let’s ponder this idea…… (more)

December 23, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump signed a hard-won $1.5 trillion tax-cut bill into law Friday, also signing a temporary funding bill to keep the government open and a $4 billion missile defense bill. Mr. Trump signed the measures at the White House shortly before departing for Florida for the Christmas holiday…. (more)


December 23, 2017
LARRY KUDLOW — With President Trump’s signing of the big tax-cut bill, the GOP snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Suddenly, the political and economic landscapes have changed. The Republican party has turned the tables on the Democrats…. (more)

December 23, 2017

ART MOORE — Prior to the United Nations General Assembly vote to declare President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “null and void,” the representatives of some of the world’s most egregious violators of human rights stood behind the podium, one after the other, to condemn the U.S. and the Jewish state…. (more)


December 23, 2017

NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump on Friday praised the U.N. Security Council for voting tougher sanctions on North Korea, saying that “the world wants peace, not death.”… (more)


December 23, 2017
NEWSMAX — The US announced Friday it would provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities,” a move that could escalate a conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists that has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2014…. (more)

December 23, 2017
NATIONAL REVIEW — In May 2016, deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes took a victory lap in the New York Times to celebrate the Obama administration’s signature foreign-policy win. Rhodes had helped orchestrate the campaign to ensure that Congress would fail to stop President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal from going into effect, and in a remarkably unguarded interview for a New York Times Magazine profile, the failed novelist – -turned – -foreign-policy spinmaster boasted of how a tame press corps that he dubbed an “echo chamber” had done his bidding…. (more)

December 23, 2017
NEWSMAX — Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday signed a law banning abortions if prenatal tests show the fetus has or could have Down syndrome, Cleveland.com reports…. (more)

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)

Reader’s Choice: Best of Right Analysis for 2017

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: December 26

  • Analysts Cut iPhone X Shipment Forecasts, Citing Lukewarm Demand (Read More)
  • North Korea likely to pursue talks, says South (Read More)
  • The quiet probe into Clinton email investigation could be a landmine for Robert Mueller (Read More)
  • Bitcoin rises 10 percent, recovers from last week’s brutal selloff (Read More)
  • U.S. Retailers Feel Christmas Cheer After a Tough Year (Read More)
  • Kremlin Sees ‘Unbearable’ Risk to U.S. Ties in New Sanctions (Read More)
  • Murder in America: What Makes Cities More Dangerous (Read More)
  • Venezuelans scramble to survive as merchants demand dollars (Read More)
  • College-Educated Women Are Moving Away From the GOP (Read More)
  • The Next Big Trade for Bond Investors Is Betting on U.S. Homeowners (Read More)
  • Rural Businesses Face Dwindling Pool of Lenders (Read More)
  • Hugh Hefner, Roger Ailes, David Rockefeller: The Year in Deaths (Read More)
  • What Ever Happened to Donald Trump’s Wall? It’s in Pieces, in the Desert (Read More)
  • Uber to Sell U.S. Auto-Leasing Business to Startup Fair.com (Read More)
  • U.S. IPOs Bounce Back: Five Key Measures of 2017’s Listings (Read More)
  • China to Overtake U.S. Economy by 2032 as Asian Might Builds (Read More)
  • QuickTakes Explain the Year Ahead (Read More)
  • November’s Swiss Watch Exports Show That China Is Once Again Red Hot (Read More)
  • China Signals Slower Growth Is Acceptable to Tackle Debt, Smog (Read More)

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 Church presents 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, […]

Read More


It’s Christmas! “Harry Potter” Visits “The Shack”

Who are we going to allow to define God, New Ager Wm. Paul Young and promoter of witchcraft J.K Rowling…or the Lord Jesus Christ? Following is Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s response in a piece he penned for Herescope: Looks like the concept of “god” in the book and movie The Shack is spreading. Fiction and fantasy have merged. […]

Read More


Headlines – 12/26/2017

Pope Francis Uses Christmas Message To Call For Two-State Solution

Pope laments ‘winds of war’ blowing around the world

Japan’s foreign minister visits days after Tokyo’s anti-Israel UN vote

Iran pledging all its might to Hamas for Jerusalem battle, terror group says

Erdogan: Trump should’ve called before Jerusalem decision

Lapid: ‘No peace agreement is better than agreement dividing Jerusalem’

Hamas will ‘shut down’ US embassy in Israel, co-founder of terror group warns

Netanyahu: ‘God bless’ Guatemala for Jerusalem move

Guatemala on ‘wrong side of history’ on Jerusalem, Palestinian FM says

Honduras, Paraguay expected to join embassy move to Jerusalem

Israel says 10 more countries in talks about moving embassies to Jerusalem

Jerusalem mayor, US envoy hunt for future embassy location

Norway announces it will stop funding organizations promoting boycott of Israel

Roseanne Barr slams ‘bigot’ Lorde for nixing Israel concert under BDS pressure

Knesset okays requiring Jewish tradition be factored into Shabbat work permits

Massachusetts struggles to avoid Yom Kippur clash with 2018 primary

Lingering drought threatens Holy Land’s waters

Palestinian group launches tree-planting program to halt Israeli building

Gaza Strip terror tunnel detecting barrier 90% completed

IDF: possible incursion from Jordan into Israel found

Syrian troops capture new areas near Israeli Golan

Will Israel’s northern border become Hezbollah-land if Assad wins?

Iranian convicted of spying for Israel sentenced to death

Saudi interior ministry: Kingdom facing terrorists with links to Iran

Egypt detains 15 after dozens attack Coptic church south of Cairo

Egypt’s top diplomat is to visit Addis Ababa Tuesday to discuss controversial Ethiopian plans to build a dam on the Nile

Erdogan Law Stirs Fears of Legalized Extra-Judicial Violence

Russia’s Putin calls for Web activities of some firms to be monitored

Britain escorts Russian ship near national waters amid strained relations

Russia’s Lavrov calls on US and North Korea to start talks

N. Korea says it’s a ‘pipe dream’ that it will give up nukes

North Korea readying to launch satellite into space

North Korea UN ambassador demands US prove Wannacry ransomware attack claim

China Would “Pay a Very High Price” If It Invades, Taiwan Warns

China to Overtake U.S. Economy by 2032 as Asian Might Builds

Haley announces $285M cut in 2018-19 UN operating budget

A bitcoin implosion could ‘spill over’ into stock market, warns Wells Fargo’s Chris Harvey

Psychics may hold the answer to Wall Street’s future

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Mid-Indian Ridge

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Auki, Solomon Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Sarangani, Philippines

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 28,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 19,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 14,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Fewer strong earthquakes in Oklahoma thus far in 2017

Vietnam braces for typhoon as Philippine toll rises to 230 dead

First tropical cyclone of the season may threaten Western Australia in final days of 2017

Prepare for the global bananapocalypse, thanks to a failure to diversify

Second court rejects Trump bid to stop transgender military recruits

Are The Central Banks Planning To Replace “Bitcoin” with “Fedcoin”?

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 05:13 PM PST

Are The Central Banks Planning To Replace “Bitcoin” with “Fedcoin”?Fedcoin doesn’t even exist yet, and yet the Washington Post is already hyping it as the primary cryptocurrency that we will be using in the future. Do they know something that the rest of us do not? Just a few days ago I warned that global central banks could eventually try to take control of the cryptocurrency phenomenon, and so I was deeply alarmed to see the Post publish this sort of an article. We want cryptocurrencies to stay completely independent, and we definitely do not want the Federal

Reserve and other global central banks to start creating their own versions. Because of course once they create their own versions they will want to start restricting the use of any competitors. The one thing that could derail the cryptocurrency revolution faster than anything else would be interference by national governments or global central banks. Unfortunately, now that Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are getting so much attention, it is inevitable that the powers that be will make a move. READ MORE

 

Thieves are stealing your cell phone number to take your money

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 05:07 PM PST

Thieves are stealing your cell phone number to take your moneyIn less than 15 minutes, my dad had his cell phone number stolen from him and had his bank account hacked into, all while he watched as his email alert him every step of the way.  It appears that his T-Mobile cell phone number was used against him, ported to an account with Metro PCS, and then used to allow a thief to gain access to his online bank account. “I was on the phone with Wells Fargo as the money was being transferred,” my dad Mike Zelinger said.

“As I was waiting, I was receiving emails from Wells Fargo saying that this has been completed, and your transfer has been completed.” What my dad is going through does not appear to be isolated. Customers have complained on Twitter and Reddit about their phone number being ported elsewhere and then used to gain access to bank accounts. READ MORE

Tennessee McDonald’s Honors The True Meaning Of Christmas With Jesus-Centered Nativity Scene

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 01:41 PM PST

Tennessee McDonald’s Honors The True Meaning Of Christmas With Jesus-Centered Nativity SceneIt is not every day you see the biggest fast food chain in the world boldly declaring the name of Jesus. One Tennessee McDonald’s refused use their window-displayed nativity scene to shift more Big Mac’s – instead choosing to honor the true “reason for the season.” The Spring Hill branch flanked their massive nativity scene with signs that read “Rejoice” and “His Name is Jesus.” Christian blogger Amy Klutinoty spotted the sign as she was driving past.

Amy founded “Your Path His Plan,” a ministry seeking to encourage others in their walk with the Lord. As she explains on her website:  “God has truly done a quick work in me, and I am humbled and walk in complete reverence to the calling He has placed upon my life. I know what God saved me from, and because I have been forgiven much, I love much. The entire purpose of my ministry is to reach a hurt, desolate, and hopeless world so I can share the Gospel, love, and POWER of Jesus Christ through boldness and Truth! READ MORE

Guatemala Says it is Moving Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 01:34 PM PST

Guatemala Says it is Moving Embassy in Israel to JerusalemGuatemala’s president announced on Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump in ordering the change.  Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel on Thursday when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump didn’t set any timetable for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and neither did Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. In a post on his official Facebook account Sunday, Morales said that after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he decided to instruct Guatemala’s foreign ministry to move the embassy. No other country has their embassy for Israel in Jerusalem, though the Czech Republic has said it is considering such a move. READ MORE

7 Things That Prove God Is Real

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 11:40 AM PST

7 Things That Prove God Is Real(By J. Lee Grady) When I was a journalist in my 20s, I needed to verify a fact about atheism. This was before the Internet age, so I phoned the Texas headquarters of American Atheists. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the mother of modern atheism in this country, answered my call. Apparently, she had a very small staff! Her voice was gruff, and she sounded angry and cynical, even before I identified myself as a Christian. She answered my question and I hung up. Ever since then, I’ve felt intense sadness for people who deny the existence of God. Explaining her beliefs, O’Hair once said, “There is no God. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground; the worms eat you.” What a sad way to view life!

I’m sure Mrs. O’Hair would be upset about the new Christian film God’s Not Dead, which opens in theaters this Friday. The film features Kevin Sorbo (who played in the 1990s TV show Hercules) as an atheist college professor who tries to force a Christian student (Shane Harper) to rethink his beliefs. The film releases at a time when atheism is growing in this country. I was never on the debate team in high school, so I’m not the best guy to take on evolutionist Richard Dawkins or comedian/atheist Bill Maher in a televised argument. Still, my faith in God is certainly not shaken when I hear these guys whining about how stupid or weak Christians are. They have a constitutional right to view life negatively. But if I had a chance to give them my reasons for believing in God, I would list these: READ MORE

Could The US Survive An EMP Attack?

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 11:35 AM PST

Could The US Survive An EMP Attack?While there’s no question that a nuclear strike on the Continental US would be utterly devastating, it’s not the only way a rogue state like North Korea could kill millions of American civilians in one fell swoop.  Another possibility that is being studied by lawmakers and Pentagon officials is – like North Korea itself – a vestige of the Cold War. We’re of course referring to an electromagnetic pulse. By detonating a hydrogen bomb in just the right spot miles above the Earth’s surface, the North could permanently damage the US power grid – maybe even take it offline completely.

By robbing entire swaths of the US of electricity, the North could precipitate thousands – if not millions – of deaths. The North first threatened an EMP attack over the summer, and North Korean media and its people have mentioned it several times since. Given the success of the North’s missile tests, Congress increased funding for the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack as part of the National Defense Authorization Act back in September.  READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: Defense Secretary Warns ‘Storm Clouds Are Gathering’ Over Korean Peninsula

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 11:28 AM PST

RUMORS OF WAR: Defense Secretary Warns ‘Storm Clouds Are Gathering’ Over Korean Peninsula“Storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean Peninsula, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared Friday. And as diplomats try to resolve the nuclear standoff, he told soldiers that the U.S. military must do its part by being ready for war. Without forecasting a conflict, Mattis emphasized that diplomacy stands the best chance of preventing a war if America’s words are backed up by strong and prepared armed forces. “My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go,”

Mattis told several dozen soldiers and airmen at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Heroes, his last stop on a two-day pre-holiday tour of bases to greet troops. Mattis’ comments came as the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea, compelling nations to sharply reduce their sales of oil to the reclusive country and send home all North Korean expatriate workers within two years. Such workers are seen as a key source of revenue for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s cash-strapped government. READ MORE

United States cuts $285 million from UN funding…

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 11:22 AM PST

United States cuts $285 million from UN funding…UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Sunday that the United States negotiated a $285 million cut in the United Nations’ “bloated” budget for next year. “The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known,” Haley said in a statement from the US Mission. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked.” Haley added that the “historic reduction” in spending is a step in the right direction and that the US would make many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN.

“In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key US priorities throughout the world and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system,” the statement said. The new deal for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is $285 million less than the world body’s staggering $5.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2016-2017.  READ MORE

Pope delivers Christmas message on need of “Two-State Solution” and warns of “Winds of War”

Posted: 25 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Pope delivers Christmas message on need of “Two-State Solution” and warns of “Winds of War”Pope Francis in his traditional Christmas message on Monday called for a two-state solution to find peace in the Middle East and prayed that confrontation can be overcome on the Korean Peninsula. The pope took particular aim at areas of global tension where President Donald Trump is playing a critical role. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has ignited new violence in the Middle East, while confrontation with North Korea over its nuclear tests has escalated tensions in Asia.

“The winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline,” the pope said in his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and to the world”) Christmas message and blessing from the central balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square. About 50,000 faithful packed the square. 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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December 26, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

United In God’s Temple

having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (2:20–22)

The foundation of the apostles and prophets refers to the divine revelation that they taught, which in its written form is the New Testament. Because the Greek genitive case appears to be used in the subjective sense, signifying the originating agency, the meaning is not that the apostles and prophets were themselves the foundation—though in a certain sense they were—but that they laid the foundation. Paul spoke of himself as “a wise master builder” who “laid a foundation” and went on to say, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:10–11; cf. Rom. 15:20). These are New Testament prophets, as indicated by the facts that they are listed after the apostles and are part of the building of the church of Jesus Christ (cf. 3:5; 4:11). Their unique function was to authoritatively speak the word of God to the church in the years before the New Testament canon was complete. The fact that they are identified with the foundation reveals that they were limited to that formative period. As 4:11 shows, they completed their work and gave way to “evangelists, and … pastors and teachers.”

The corner stone of the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself (see Isa. 28:16; Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11). The cornerstone was the major structural part of ancient buildings. It had to be strong enough to support what was built on it, and it had to be precisely laid, because every other part of the structure was oriented to it. The cornerstone was the support, the orienter, and the unifier of the entire building. That is what Jesus Christ is to God’s kingdom, God’s family, and God’s building.

Through Isaiah, God declared, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed” (Isa. 28:16). After quoting that passage, Peter says, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe … you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:7, 9).

It is Christ Jesus Himself as the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. Sunarmologeō (fitted together) refers to the careful joining of every component of a piece of furniture, wall, building, or other structure. Every part is precisely cut to fit snugly, strongly, and beautifully with every other part. Nothing is out of place, defective, misshapen, or inappropriate. Because it is Christ’s building, the church is perfect, spotless, without defect or blemish. And that is how He will one day present the church, His own holy temple, to Himself (Eph. 5:27).

Christ’s Body, however, will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so. Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s building, His holy temple. Thus Paul says the temple is growing because believers are continually being added.

Many cathedrals in Europe have been under construction for hundreds of years. In a continuing process, new rooms, alcoves, chapels, and so forth are built. That is the way with the church of Jesus Christ. It is in a continual state of construction as each new saint becomes a new stone. “You also, as living stones,” Peter said, “are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). As kingdom citizens, family members, and living stones, believers in Jesus Christ are a holy priesthood who offer up spiritual sacrifices in God’s holy temple. As a living, functioning, and precious part of that temple, we also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (see also 2 Cor. 6:16).

The term a dwelling (katoikētērion) carries the idea of a permanent home. God in the Spirit makes His earthly sanctuary in the church, where He takes up permanent residence as Lord. This would be a vivid perception for people living amid temples in which pagan deities were believed to dwell, as in the temple to Artemis in Ephesus (see Acts 19:23–41). But the church is no small physical chamber in which an idol is kept; it is the vast spiritual body of the redeemed, wherein resides His Spirit. (It should be noted that this is a distinct truth from that of each believer being the individual temple of the Holy Spirit, as taught in 1 Cor. 6:19–20.)

Through the blood, the suffering flesh, the cross, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, aliens become citizens, strangers become family, idolaters become the temple of the true God, the hopeless inherit the promises of God, those without Christ become one in Christ, those far off are brought near, and the godless are reconciled to God. Therein is the reconciliation of men to God and of men to men.[1]


The New Humanity

Ephesians 2:19–22

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

For several chapters the apostle has been building toward a consideration of the church, which is the major theme of Ephesians. He has not tackled the theme directly. The word “church” has occurred only once thus far (in 1:22). But this is what he wants to talk about, and everything has been building to a full treatment of it.

Chapter 1 presented the plan of salvation from God’s perspective, beginning with God’s electing grace in Christ and culminating in the exaltation of Christ as “head over everything for the church, which is his body.” Chapter 2 presented the plan from our perspective, showing how we are brought from a state of being spiritually dead to a state of being spiritually alive. But it also ends with the church; for it shows, not merely how we have been made alive in Christ, but how we have been brought into the fellowship of God’s redeemed and regenerated people.

This is the point to which the last verses of chapter 2 bring us.

I am sure you remember, when you were a child, being given books of drawings in which various objects were cleverly concealed. The picture might be of a field with trees, grass, and fluffy clouds. Underneath were the words: “Can you find the animals hidden in this picture?” When you looked at the picture carefully, you would find a squirrel hidden in the wavy lines of the clouds, an elephant tucked into the foliage of a tree, fish in the grass, and so on. In a sense, this is what we have in verses 19–22 of this chapter. Paul is not using the word “church,” but tucked into these lines are three great biblical images for what the church is and how it functions.

Can you find these images? The first is of the church as a city-state or kingdom. Paul refers to it by saying, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people” (v. 19). The second picture is of a family. Paul slips that in by continuing, “… and members of God’s household” (v. 19). The third picture is the most carefully developed, a building which turns out to be a temple: “… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (v. 20). And Paul adds, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (v. 21).

Later in the letter Paul develops the image of the church as Christ’s body (chaps. 4–5), and still later as a well-equipped army (ch. 6).

God’s Kingdom

What a rich field of imagery this first picture unfolds! We think at once of the Old Testament theocracy, in which God was the literal head of the earthly Jewish state. Or we think of John the Baptist’s preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2), or of Jesus declaring, “The kingdom of God is within [or, in the midst of] you” (Luke 17:21). We pray for the coming of that kingdom each time we recite the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

In scholarly discussion there has been much debate over whether the kingdom of God is past, present, or future. This debate flows from the texts I have cited, among others. In some cases the kingdom seems to have a past aspect, as in God’s rule over Israel. In others it has a present aspect, as in the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early Christians. In still other cases the kingdom of God is future; else how could we pray “your kingdom come”?

The solution to this apparent problem is that the kingdom of God actually transcends these temporal concepts and is best dealt with in entirely different terms. Basically the kingdom of God is where God rules. Since God rules over all life and over all worldly kingdoms, there is a sense in which the whole world is God’s kingdom. His kingdom prevails. As a result, those who confess God’s kingship are comforted in the midst of this world’s chaotic conflicts and changes. It is why, although there are always “wars and rumors of wars,” we are not to be “alarmed” by them (Matt. 24:6). The kingdom is also where God rules in individual minds and hearts. Paul described the internal aspects of this kingdom as “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). In this present time the kingdom comes whenever the righteousness, peace, and joy of Jesus enter an individual life, transform it, and bring spiritual blessing.

Paul does not develop this picture at great length in Ephesians. In fact, he does not even use the word “kingdom.” But he introduces his thoughts in such a way that it is clear what he has in mind—the incorporation of gentile believers into the kingdom. In other words, he gets into this image by the things he had said earlier. In these previous verses he had been talking about the hostility that had existed between Jew and Gentile symbolized by the wall around the Jewish portions of the temple in Jerusalem. Paul declares that this wall has been broken down by Christ so that now both Jew and Gentile (and all other elements of human society) are brought near to God on an equal basis and become elements of one great spiritual kingdom, the Christian church.

This is revolutionary thinking—and it has proved itself to be revolutionary historically. When Paul wrote these words the kingdom of Rome was at the height of its territorial expansion and glory. Rome dominated the world. Roman armies kept peace and dispensed justice. Roman roads linked the far-flung reaches of the Empire. Rome had stood for hundreds of years and was thought to be able to stand for thousands of years more. But Paul looked at Rome and saw it, not as one great united Kingdom, but as a force imposed on mutually antagonistic factions: rich and poor, free man and slave, man and woman, Jew and Gentile. And in its place he saw this new humanity, created by God himself, transcending these boundaries. This kingdom was destined to grow and permeate all nations, drawing from all peoples. It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken or destroyed.

God’s Children in Christ

Paul’s second picture of the church is a family. He introduces it in the second half of verse 19: “… and members of God’s household.” The Greek word which Paul uses (oikeios) can refer to an entire family establishment, including friends who live with the family, servants, and hired workers. But in view of Paul’s earlier discussion of our being made alive in Christ, when we had been dead in transgressions and sins, it is most likely that he is thinking of our being born into the “natural” family of God where the ties are of blood and not mere household associations.

No doubt this is why he introduced this image. Wonderful as the relationship of a citizen to a strong, beneficent state may be, it is still a distant, or formal relationship. Family ties are more intimate, the bonds tighter.

To become a member of a family you must be born into it or be adopted into it. Interestingly, the Bible uses both terms to describe what it means to be a Christian. Chiefly it speaks of rebirth. This was Jesus’ teaching to the aging Nicodemus: “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Peter wrote about it in his first letter: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

This idea highlights the similarity or continuity of natures. The life of the child is not the same life as the life of the father or mother, but it comes from them and is like theirs. Today we would speak of a genetic relationship in which characteristics of parents are passed to children. This is why there must be holiness in the church. God is holy. So the children of God must be growing in holiness also. If they are not, they show that they are not truly God’s children.

Being a member of God’s household brings inestimable privileges with it. It brings us into the supportive network of our spiritual brothers and sisters. It gives us a share in the oversight, fellowship, and prayers of the church. It gives us a right to the sacraments and a place in God’s plan. More important, it gives us access to God as Father, which means that we can come to him in prayer at any moment of any day with any need or request and have the assurance that he will hear, receive us, and answer our requests out of his own mercy and according to his own pleasing and perfect will.

God’s Temple

The most extensive picture of the church in these verses is a temple. Paul speaks of Christians being “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (vv. 20–22). As Paul develops it, this image has several important aspects.

  1. The foundation. The strength and durability of a building rests upon its foundation, and that is true of the church too. This is so important that the apostle begins his discussion by reference to this foundation. What is it? Paul says that it is “the apostles and prophets.” We remember that 1 Corinthians 3:11 makes this point differently, saying, “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” But the point is really the same. Jesus is the foundation. He said to the apostle Peter, “On this rock [meaning himself] I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). But it is right to say that the apostles and prophets are the foundation too, in the sense that for us they are their teaching, which is focused on Christ.

The apostles were the appointed and inspired witnesses to Christ in the first generation of the church. Jesus said that he would give the New Testament through them (John 14:26; 15:26–27; 16:13–15), and he did. In this context “prophets” probably refers to that special class of individuals who received and proclaimed direct messages from God and worked along with the apostles in the early days. Paul refers to them again in 3:5, speaking of truths revealed by the Spirit to “God’s holy apostles and prophets,” and in 4:11, saying that God blessed the church by giving “some to be apostles [and] some to be prophets.”

The point is that the basis of the church’s unity—to which each of the three pictures of the church attest—is truth or sound doctrine. In our day churchmen are often very concerned about unity, and many have been pouring great energy into what is called the ecumenical movement, an effort to get the many diverse branches of the church together. It can be a good thing. True Christians should be united, and it is sad that we are as divided as we are. But when anyone speaks about unity we must be careful to determine what kind of unity we are talking about. Is it the unity of the lowest common denominator? If that is the case, Christianity quickly loses its uniqueness altogether. Is it the unity of an imposed ecclesiastical structure? The church had that to perfection in the Middle Ages, but those were the worst of all days for Christ’s body. No, the only unity that is worth having—the only true unity—is the unity built on the revealed truth of God centering in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Where that is present God blesses the church and enables it to grow “together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (v. 22).

  1. The cornerstone. In 1 Corinthians 3:11 Paul called Jesus the “foundation.” Here he calls him the “cornerstone.” A cornerstone was important for two reasons. It was part of the foundation, and it also fixed the angle of the building and became the standard from which the architect traced the walls and arches throughout.

The word also touches upon a rich mine of imagery. We remember that Isaiah, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, spoke of the coming of Jesus Christ in these terms: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed” (Isa. 28:16). The psalmist wrote of a stone which was rejected by the builders of the great temple of Solomon but which was later found and used: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (Ps. 118:22). Jesus applied this Scripture to himself, quoting Psalm 118 (cf. Matt. 21:42); and Peter tied the texts into one great image, to which he also added a citation of Isaiah 8:14.

In Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.

But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone.”

and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble

and a rock that makes them fall.”

1 Peter 2:6–8

Although the leaders of his day rejected the Lord Jesus Christ by crucifying him, God made him the cornerstone of the temple which is the church. This is the Lord’s doing (cf. Ps. 118:23). An individual must therefore either be joined to Christ savingly or be broken by him.

  1. Living stones. Paul does not mention stones specifically in our text, but that is what he is thinking of when he writes, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (v. 22). Believers are mortared together with Christ, as God the architect through his workmen, the preachers of the gospel, builds his church. Peter said it in the verse just before those I have quoted: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

The applications of this part of the picture are so obvious as hardly to need elaboration. Let me suggest a few. First, the stones placed into this great structure are chosen and shaped for their position by God. It is his temple; he is the architect; it is not for us to determine where we will fit in or how. Second, the stones are placed into position in relationship to Jesus Christ. They are attached to him; if they are not, they are not part of this building. Third, the stones are of different shapes and sizes, perhaps even of different material, and they are employed for different functions. Some serve in one way, some another. Fourth, the stones are linked to one another. From where they are placed they cannot always see this; they cannot always even see the other stones. But they are part of one interlocking whole regardless. Fifth, the stones of the temple are chosen, shaped, and placed, not to draw attention to themselves, but to contribute to a great building in which God alone dwells. Sixth, the placing of each stone is only part of a long work begun thousands of years in the past that will continue until the end of the age when the Lord returns.

What a great process this is! And how mysterious! We are told in 1 Kings 6:7 that when the great temple of Solomon was constructed “only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.” To my knowledge, no building in history was ever built in this way. Its construction was almost silent, so holy was the work. Silently, silently the stones were moved and added, and the building rose.

Thus it is with the church. We do not hear what is going on inside human minds and hearts as God the Holy Spirit creates new life and adds those individuals to the temple he is building. But God is working. In the days of the apostles God was adding Gentiles to a temple composed at that time largely of Jewish believers. He was adding Luke, Lydia, Phoebe, Philemon, Onesimus—and the believers at Ephesus, and other Greek and Roman cities. Later he added those we call the early church fathers, then the later church fathers and those to whom they ministered. At the time of the Reformation he added Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and Knox and Cranmer and many others. He is still adding to his temple today.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 82–83). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 88–93). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

DECEMBER 26 CHRIST’S WORLD OF NATURE

Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Matthew 4:11

Jesus Christ came into our world in the fullness of time, and His own world, the world of nature, received Him, even though His own people received Him not!

It is my own feeling that when Jesus came, all of nature went out to greet Him. The star led the wise men from the East. The cattle in the stable stall in Bethlehem did not bother Him. His own things in created nature received Him.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan believed that when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, He was there with the wild beasts for forty days and nights. Dr. Morgan held that there had been a wrong conception, as if Jesus needed angelic protection from the animals.

Jesus was perfectly safe there. He was nature’s Creator and Lord. Jesus was in total harmony with nature, and I am of the opinion that the deeper our Christian commitment becomes, the more likely we will find ourselves in tune and in harmony with the natural world around us!

Dear Lord, many people love nature, but they don’t yet acknowledge the One who created it and sustains it. Lord, do something to impress upon those people that there had to be a Master Designer who set the physical world in motion.[1]


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

December 26 A Transaction Makes the Kingdom Personal

And from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.—Matt. 13:44b

Some believers feel uncomfortable about the parables we have been considering, thinking they teach salvation can be bought. But Scripture always teaches that salvation is completely free. Salvation is “bought” only in the sense that one trusts Jesus as Lord and Savior and surrenders all to Him. The treasure and the pearl illustrate the spiritual transaction of surrender. In salvation, we exchange the old for the new.

Isaiah 55:1 describes salvation as God’s gift, yet refers to buying: “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” As in the two parables, the sinner gives up all the worthless things he or she has while receiving all the invaluable kingdom wealth. Therefore this does not depict a buying of salvation, because with God that is totally unacceptable (cf. Isa. 64:6).

Without surrendering everything, people’s professions of faith are meaningless (cf. Matt. 19:16–22). Jesus declared, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Our Lord also said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

When confronted with the true gospel, most people don’t inventory all their possessions to see if Jesus is worth following (cf. Luke 14:28–33). When they see the infinite value of His kingdom riches, they simply yield to Him, surrender all, and faithfully follow.

ASK YOURSELF

Are you holding anything back from God in your service to Him, hoping He won’t ask to touch or remove it? If the Spirit has made you aware of a habit, activity, or possession that restricts the free flow of your worship, seek your security blanket in Him alone. He will be more than enough—a blessed replacement.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 369). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 26 Life or Death

Whether by life or by death.

Philippians 1:20

The apostle Paul didn’t know the details of God’s plan for his life, but he was confident in it, whether it meant life or death. Later he said, “I am hard–pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (vv. 23–24). Paul preferred the joy of being in Christ’s presence in heaven, but apparently he thought the Lord would let him live because he knew the Philippians needed him.

Paul rejoiced because he knew that by either his life or death Christ would be exalted. If he lived, he would be free to preach and build the church. If he died, he would be executed for Christ’s sake, and his unwavering faith would serve as a trophy of Christ’s grace. For Paul the issue was not his troubles, detractors, or even the possibility of his death, but whether the gospel was advancing and the Lord was being magnified.

Like Paul, you don’t know the specifics of God’s plan for your life. But one thing you can be sure of: in life or death you can glorify Christ.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 387). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

DECEMBER 26 A NEW ORDER

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

—Isaiah 65:17

Amid all the world religions, only Christianity is able to proclaim the Bible’s good news that God, the Creator and Redeemer, will bring a new order into being! Indeed, that is the only good news available to a fallen race today. God has promised a new order that will be of eternal duration and infused with eternal life.

How amazing!

It is a promise from God of a new order to be based upon the qualities the exact opposite of mankind’s universal blight—temporality and mortality. God promises the qualities of perfection and eternity—qualities that cannot now be found anywhere on this earth.

What a prospect! …

God’s revelation says that Jesus Christ is the eternal Victor, triumphant over sin and death. That is why He is the Head of the new creation which has upon it the banner of eternity rather than of temporality and the mark of life forevermore rather than the mark of death. TRA139-140, 142

What a prospect, indeed! Thank You, Father, for the eternal victory of Jesus Christ. I worship You now and long for that day of completion. Amen.[1]


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

December 26 Defending the Faith

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the first–born of all creation. For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first–born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him.”

Colossians 1:15–19

✧✧✧

A believer should defend the faith.

Despite the diligent labors of Epaphras, the Colossian church was in jeopardy. A serious heresy had arisen, and Epaphras was so concerned that he traveled to Rome to visit Paul in prison. The Colossian church had not yet been infected by that heresy, and Paul warns them against its dangers.

The heretics, denying the humanity of Christ, viewed Him as one of many lesser, descending spirit beings that emanated from God. They taught a form of philosophic dualism, postulating that spirit was good and matter was evil. Hence, a good emanation like Christ could never take on a body composed of evil matter. The idea that God Himself could become man was absurd to them. Thus, the false teachers also denied His deity.

Christ was also not adequate for salvation, according to the heretics. Salvation required a superior, mystical, secret knowledge, beyond that of the gospel of Christ. It also involved worshiping the good emanations (angels) and keeping Jewish ceremonial laws.

By far the most serious aspect of the Colossian heresy was its rejection of Christ’s deity. Before getting to the other issues, Paul makes an emphatic defense of that crucial doctrine. In Colossians 1:15–19 Paul reveals our Lord’s true identity by viewing Him in relation to God, the universe, and the church.

Perhaps you’ve met people who deny Christ’s deity, but you weren’t sure what to say to them. In the next few days, let Paul be your guide in showing you how to confront cultists in a biblical manner. By following his example, you’ll be able to defend our precious faith.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to teach you from His Word how to refute false teaching.

For Further Study: In verse 3 of Jude, what exhortation does Jude give to believers?[1]


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

December 25 Daily Help

WE esteem every day alike, but still, as the season suggests thoughts of Jesus, let us joyfully remember our dear Redeemer’s glorious birth. Who but He was ever longed for by such a multitude of hearts? When did angels indulge in midnight songs, or did God hang a new star in the sky? To whose cradle did rich and poor make so willing a pilgrimage, and offer such hearty and unsought oblations? Well may earth rejoice; well may all men cease their labor to celebrate “the great birthday” of Jesus. Let gladness rule the hour; let holy song and sweet heart music accompany our soul in the raptures of joy.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 363). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company

December 25, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

A Third Warning

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (5:11)

Him, of course, refers to Melchizedek, who has just been mentioned (vv. 6, 10). Before he explains the order of Melchizedek (in chap. 7), however, the writer gives his third parenthetical warning. As we have already noted, interspersed throughout Hebrews are several warnings to the intellectually convinced Jews who were on the edge of decision but had not yet come to faith in Christ. These warnings could also function in the context of encouragement and counsel to those Jews who had trusted Christ but were being tempted to turn back into Judaism because of doubts, criticism, and, for some, even persecution. But the main thrust was to unbelievers. The first warning (2:1–4) was about their neglecting the gospel, and the second (3:7–19) was about hardening their hearts to it.

The third warning concerns spiritual maturity—the danger of staying with the elemental truths and promises of the Old Covenant, now that it has been superseded by the New. This warning is also, I believe, to the same group as are the other two—to unbelieving Jews who knew a great deal about the gospel but who had not gone all the way to accepting it for themselves. Some may have made a shallow profession of faith but not actually believed. They are told of the danger of not claiming the blessing of the New Covenant, apart from which they cannot have eternal life. They are close, yet so far away.

Unbelieving Babes

There are, of course, many exhortations in the New Testament for immature Christians to grow up. Throughout the history of the church there has been need for such counsel, but I do not think that is what is given here. He is saying to hesitant Jews still hanging on to Judaism, “Come on to completeness, to maturity, in the New Covenant.” This interpretation is not the most traditional, but I think it is consistent with the context of the whole book and is defensible. The warning and the appeal, as before, are evangelistic. The maturity being called for is not that of a Christian’s growing in the faith, but of an unbeliever’s coming into the faith—into the full-grown, mature truths and blessings of the New Covenant. It is the same maturity or perfection (from teleioō) as in 10:1 and 14, which can only refer to salvation, not Christian growth.

The Old Covenant was the spiritual alphabet. The Old Covenant was the baby talk, the letters and the sounds of a child’s first vocabulary. You do not use an encyclopedia to start teaching a child to read. You use pictures and other visual objects. You point to the picture or the object and say, “This is a ball. That is a horse. This is a fish.” Later on you begin explaining these things. You tell him that balls are round, horses eat hay, and that fish “breathe” water. God’s revelation to man progressed in a similar way. The Old Testament was His elementary, foundational teaching. It began with “pictures.” God was saying, in effect, “This is a feast you are to celebrate. This is a sacrifice you must make. These are the clothes a high priest should wear, and this is a ceremonial washing that is required for certain occasions.” Each had purposes and benefits for the times for which it was given. But primarily they were pictures of things to come, which the people were not then ready to understand. They were symbols and shadows of realities in Christ and the New Covenant (Col. 2:17).

Now that the New Covenant had come in Jesus Christ, the writer of Hebrews is saying to his fellow Jews, “Leave the pictures, the milk and baby food, of the Old Testament. Come to the fulfilled realities and the solid food of the New Testament. Leave Judaism and come to Christ.”

Dullness Prevents Understanding

So before they could possibly understand the significance of Jesus’ priesthood being like Melchizedek’s, the readers needed to get beyond their limited, immature understanding of God. A key mark of that immaturity was simply dullness of hearing, spiritual lethargy. The relation of Melchizedek and his priesthood to Christ is rich and meaningful, and important to the flow of the book, but it cannot be understood by unbelievers, even ones who intellectually accept the gospel. “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God … because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). These borderline believers were being told that there was no use going into the deeper things of the New Covenant at that time, because they had become dull of hearing.

Dull comes from the Greek nōthros, which is made up of the words for “no” and “push.” Literally, therefore, it means “no push”—slow, sluggish. When used of a person it generally meant intellectually numb or thick. In the context of this passage, however, it primarily indicates spiritual dullness.

When a person is spiritually dull, he is difficult to teach. These Jews had been lulled into sleep because of neglect and hardness of heart, and they would have to awaken and become alert if they were to appreciate the truth, significance, and necessity of the New Covenant. They could not truly understand the gospel, of course, until they put their trust in the Bearer of the gospel. To be able to see its importance, they had to spiritually “wake up and pay attention.”

These lethargic unbelievers have many counterparts today. People hear the gospel and are stirred and excited. Spiritual understanding appears to begin, but the more they hear it without accepting it, the more spiritually sluggish they become. They neglect to act on the truth they know and become more and more hardened to it, often while claiming to admire and respect it. They become more and more insulated from spiritual truth and understanding, and from spiritual life itself.

Though, as we have noted, this passage is not addressed to believers, the same principle applies. When we do not trust and act on any part of God’s truth that we know, we become hardened to it and less and less likely to benefit from it. Or when we avoid delving into the deeper parts of God’s Word, being satisfied with the “basics,” we insulate ourselves from the Holy Spirit to that extent. From a somewhat different perspective, a teacher or preacher can suffer spiritually when he does not bother to teach and preach the deeper, and sometimes harder, truths of Scripture—or is afraid to do so. The more he resists or neglects to teach them, the less they will mean to him. Paul was able to say that he did not fail to declare the whole counsel, or purpose, of God (Acts 20:27). He would not skip over or neglect any part of God’s Word. No faithful servant of God will accommodate his teaching to the dull, lazy Christian.

Dullness Is Gradual

The implication of 5:11 is that those who were dull of hearing had once been alert and interested, perhaps even eager, to learn more of the gospel. They did not start out dull; they became that way gradually. These were doubtlessly among the ones who had “once been enlightened” and had “tasted of the heavenly gift” (6:4). At one time they had been stirred and moved and open. They were once on the brink of salvation. By now, however, they had sunk into a rather settled state of spiritual stupor.[1]


5:11 “About this” could equally be translated “about him,” and in that case the “him” could be understood either as Melchizedek or as Christ, but on either understanding the general sense is the same. The author has embarked on quite a complex argument concerning Christ, the priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, which he now fears they are not going to be able to follow. The reason is stated in the perfect tense, literally, “you have become sluggish in hearing,” which suggests a more recent development rather than an innate inability (Ellingworth, 301: “Not only have they stopped growing altogether: they have actually retrogressed”) and perhaps indicates a problem of will rather than of intellectual capacity (as the NIV’s “slow to learn” suggests). TNIV’s rather free rendering “you no longer try to understand” gets the point well.[2]


5:11 This verse explains the subject of Melchizedek’s relationship to Christ as an issue which is hard to explain. This was not because it was an unfamiliar subject. It was because they were slow to learn. This phrase highlights their slackness and dullness.

The fact they were slow learners was their own fault. They were no longer capable of receiving solid instruction. They had closed their ears to God’s message. Jeremiah’s descriptions applied to them: “The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it” (Jer. 6:10).

Verses 12–13 describe the results of this dullness. Verse 14 outlines a solution ready and available if they will follow it.[3]


5:11 At this point the author must digress. He would like to continue with the subject of Christ’s Melchizedekan priesthood but he cannot. He is under divine constraint to rebuke his readers for their immaturity and at the same time to warn them seriously against the danger of falling away.

It is sadly true that our apprehension of divine truth is limited by our own spiritual condition. Dull ears cannot receive deep truths! How often it is true of us, as of the disciples, that the Lord has many things to say to us but we cannot bear them (John 16:12).[4]


5:11 Though the author of Hebrews has much more to say about Jesus’ priesthood, it will be hard to explain to the readers of this letter because they are dull of hearing.Dull means “sluggish.” When these people heard the word of God they were not quick to accept it (6:11, 12). They had grown even more lazy in the faith, so explaining the truth to them would be difficult.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 128–131). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 80). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 95). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2172). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1642). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

December 25: Laziness and Lions

Jeremiah 49:1–39; Romans 11:25–12:8; Proverbs 26:12–28

When we consider ourselves wise, we’re in danger of losing perspective on the truth and making others feel small. The Proverbs often discuss this problem, remarking, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov 26:12). This foolishness doesn’t just appear when we elevate ourselves or fail to consider others; it also shows up when we fail to consider our own needs.

When we’re lazy or do less than we can, we’re actually sinning—we’re ignoring what God meant us to be and thus holding back His plan, not just our own productivity. One of the Proverbs says, “A lazy person says ‘A lion is in the road! A lion among the streets!’ … A lazy person buries his hands in the dish; he is too tired to return it to his mouth. A lazy person is wiser in his eyes than seven who answer discreetly” (Prov 26:13, 15–16). The Bible’s condemnation of laziness makes sense for hyperbolic situations like lions showing up or someone being too lazy to eat, but it is even more practical when applied to regular situations.

If you consider many of the problems in our world—hunger, water, sanitation, or medical issues—it becomes clear that laziness and funds are often the obstacles preventing us from resolving them. If we stopped ignoring the lions and considering ourselves so wise, we would be able to help many people in need. We would also stop hurting those around us with our arrogance.

God wants to intercede in our world. He wants to use us to do so—we just have to step up.

What type of laziness are you excusing?

John D. Barry[1]


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