Daily Archives: December 30, 2017

December 30 Satan’s Conqueror

“Since … the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14–15).

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Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into Hell forever. So the Devil wants to hang on to men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand in the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death and is thus able to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50–58. How are we to live our lives, based on what we know about death?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 377). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

DECEMBER 30 THE PERFUME OF REMEMBERED BLESSING

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him….

COLOSSIANS 2:9, 10

Christ is so many wonderful things to His people and brings to them such a wealth of benefits as the mind cannot comprehend nor the heart find words to express!

Bernard of Clairvaux speaks in his writings of a “perfume compounded of the remembered benefits of God.”

Such fragrance is all too rare!

Every follower of Christ should be redolent of such a perfume; for have we not all received more from God’s kindness than our imagination could have conceived before we knew Him and discovered for ourselves how rich and how generous He is?

That we have received of His fullness grace for grace no one will deny, but the fragrance comes not from the receiving but from the remembering.

Ten lepers received their health—that was the benefit. One came back to thank his benefactor—that was the perfume!

Unremembered benefits, like dead flies, may cause the ointment to give forth a stinking savor.

Remembered blessings, thankfulness for present favors and praise for promised grace blend like myrrh and aloes and cassia to make a rare bouquet for the garments of the saints. With this perfume David also anointed his harp and the hymns of the ages have been sweet with it.

We are reminded that much of the Bible is devoted to prediction. Nothing God has yet done for us can compare with all that is written in the sure word of prophecy. And, nothing He has done or may yet do for us can compare with what He is and will be to us![1]


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

Open Occultism and Millennial Magik

Here’s an idea. Instead of Christian missionaries heading off to third world countries to evangelize the lost, why not remain at home and evangelize college students. As it turns out, many institutions of higher learning promote paganism; thus, a large number of college educated millennials have bought into pagan beliefs, hook line and sinker. They’re involved in occult practices like astrology, tarot card reading, aura reading, palmistry, Runes, charms, potions, they play the Ouija board game and so on and so forth. In other words, college students are practicing the magik arts, what is commonly called witchcraft.

Sure, Christians must share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people in developing countries; but according to Joseph Torres, the good news must be shared with millennials in their own home towns as well because universities are churning out witches faster than you can say Hogwarts. “College campuses in particular are fertile breeding grounds for open occultism among millennials,” writes Torres. He warns that witchcraft has become the norm.

You can learn more from Joe Torres about this dire situation over at truthXchange. He writes:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. With each passing generation, this cliché takes on deeper levels of truth. Many have noted just how different the so-called millennial generation (the 18-30 demographic) is from the generations that came before them: their lack of respect for authority, their obsession with entertainment, and their penchant for social media. Yet, for all these differences (and many of them are greatly exaggerated), one thing has remained consistent. The millennial generation is as much under the spiritual attack of paganism as every generation reaching as far back as the Garden of Eden.

Now, I can imagine that some may read those last few sentences with a jaundiced eye. Maybe I’m simply being a Pollyanna, a conservative alarmist warning the masses that the bad people are “coming for your children.” The fact is I’m also skeptical of fanciful claims with a conspiratorial bend. But it appears paganism, and by this I mean “out-and-proud” occultism is making a comeback among young people, and is backed with all the promotional punch of the Internet, social media, and Youtube.

A number of recent articles have acknowledged that a kind of spiritual awakening is taking place among millennials. Back in 2005 Catherine Edwards Sanders wrote Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality[1]. There she defines Wicca as,

monistic and pantheistic beliefs that all living things are of equal value. … Humans have no special place, nor are they made in God’s image. … Wiccans believe that they possess divine power within themselves and that they are gods and goddesses. …Consciousness can and should be altered through rite and ritual.[2]

These beliefs are not unique to Wicca, though it does appear that witchcraft is the predominant form of the Oneist resurgence among millennials. Parties on all sides of the worldview spectrum increasingly recognize the trend. Jason Mankey has authored a piece titled, “Why Millennials Love Paganism,”[3] and Alden Wicker, in his article, “Witchcraft is the perfect religion for liberal millennials”[4] remarks that“ modern witchcraft [is] a movement that is being propelled out of the forest and into the mainstream.” He continues,

Search Meetup and you’ll find dozens of spell-casting covens in your area. The hashtag #witchesofinstagram brings up more than 360,000 posts from practitioners like @TheHoodWitch, who posts pictures of her long, lacquered nails hovering over tarot cards; @witcheryway, a Canadian witch who sells spell kits and incense burners out of her shop, and @light_witch, a self-described feminist in New England who spends her time swanning through outdoor landscapes in capes. View article →

Source: Open Occultism and Millennial Magik

December 30, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Humble

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; (4:7)

But introduces a contrast with verse 6, which describes the immense and incalculable glory of the eternal God revealed in the incarnate Christ. That priceless divine treasure is contained in a lowly human container—a humbling perspective every preacher and believer must have. Paul’s humble view of himself was at the heart of what made him so usable. Later in this epistle he wrote, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves” (2 Cor. 10:12). He refused to evaluate himself based on the false apostles’ shallow, external criteria; he was not interested in comparing himself with those who “measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves” (10:12). He would not “boast beyond … measure” (10:13), because “he who boasts is to boast in the Lord” (10:17) and, “It is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends” (10:18).

The treasure in view here is the same as the “ministry” in 4:1. Both terms describe the glorious gospel message that the eternal God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, and died on the cross and rose again to provide forgiveness of sin and eternal life for all who repent and believe. The treasure is of incalculable worth, because “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.… For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:3, 9). The gospel message reveals the most profound truths the world has ever known, which produce the most powerful eternal effects. Through the gospel people are freed from the power of sin and death (Rom. 8:2; Heb. 2:14), released from condemnation (Rom. 8:1), transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18), and given eternal joy, peace, and satisfaction.

Yet, amazingly, that priceless gospel treasure is contained in simple earthen vessels. Ostrakinos (earthen) refers to baked clay. The vessels Paul describes here were just common pots: cheap, breakable, easily replaceable, and virtually valueless. Occasionally they were used to hide valuables, such as gold, silver, and jewelry. The pots containing such valuable items would often be buried in the ground. In fact, the man in Jesus’ parable who found the treasure hidden in a field (Matt. 13:44) might have discovered it when his plow broke a buried pot. Clay pots were also used to store valuable documents; the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered stored in clay pots in a cave near Qumran.

But earthen vessels were most frequently used for ignoble, everyday purposes. In ancient times, human waste and garbage were stored and transported in clay pots. They were “vessels … of earthenware … to dishonor” (2 Tim. 2:20); that is, they were used for dishonorable, distasteful, unmentionable tasks. Such clay pots had no intrinsic value; their only worth came from the valuables they contained or the service they performed.

Far from disputing the false apostles’ disparaging assessment of him, Paul embraced it and turned it into an affirmation of his authenticity. The apostle acknowledged his human limitations and weaknesses, even describing himself as the “foremost” of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). But like a cheap, fragile, ordinary clay pot used to hide valuable treasure, Paul carried the priceless treasure of the glorious new covenant gospel. Therefore he could boldly affirm, “I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). In the next verse he declared, “Even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge.” Though he lacked the polished oratorical skills so highly prized by the Greeks, Paul was not at all lacking in spiritual knowledge.

God delights in using humble, common people, those who are overlooked by society. He places in such clay pots the incalculable treasure of the gospel. In his first inspired letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminded them of that truth:

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1:26–29)

Earlier he asked rhetorically, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). By using common clay pots, God gets the glory, “so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’ ” (1 Cor. 1:31). The prerequisite for spiritual usefulness is to be humble, to see one’s self for what one really is, and acknowledge that all the glory for one’s accomplishments belongs to God, who placed the treasure in us. His own trials had taught Paul the lesson that God’s glory and strength were best manifest in his weakness. Because God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9), Paul could joyously affirm, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).

The world is filled with people too enamored with their own cleverness, importance, and ability to be used by God. But when God chose the men through whom He would give His Word to mankind, He did not choose the learned scholars of Alexandria, the distinguished philosophers of Athens, the eloquent orators of Rome, or the self-righteous religious leaders of Israel. He passed them all by in favor of simple Galilean fishermen like Peter, John, James, and Andrew, despised traitors like Matthew the tax collector, and obscure men like Philip, Mark, and Nathaniel (see John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men [Nashville: Word Publishing, 2002]). Even the educated people He chose, such as Luke the physician and Paul, the rabbinic scholar, were humble, unimposing people. To those common, earthen vessels God entrusted the priceless treasure of the gospel.

God chooses humble people to proclaim the gospel message so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of Him. He alone reveals “the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (4:6). By using frail, fallible people, God makes it clear that the power lies not in the human messenger but in the divine message. God’s power transcends the limitations of the clay pot. And it is precisely those limitations that allow Christians to experience the greatest demonstration of God’s power.[1]


7 Here is the first paradox—the difference between the indescribable value of the gospel treasure and the relative worthlessness of the gospel’s ministers. Verse 6 referred to the treasure in jars of clay as the illumination that comes from “the knowledge of the glory of God.” In describing as “earthen vessels” (NASB) those to whom the gospel is entrusted (1 Th 2:4), Paul is not disparaging the human body or implying that the body is simply the receptacle of the soul (see Notes). Rather, he is contrasting the relative insignificance and unattractiveness of the bearers of the light with the inestimable worth and beauty of the light itself. Behind this contrast Paul sees a divine purpose—that people may recognize that “this all-surpassing power” is God’s alone. His power finds its full scope in human weakness (2 Co 12:9).[2]


4:7 / Having shown the transcendent power and glory of his apostleship in 2:14–4:6, Paul is careful not to claim personal credit for these things. Paul wants to avoid the appearance of self-commendation (3:1) and claims instead that his competence is from God (3:5). This treasure probably refers to the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Christ through which Paul received his apostolic commission (4:6). Paul has this revelatory treasure in jars of clay. It is difficult to know exactly why Paul has chosen this metaphor for his physical body (cf. b. Taʿan. 7a; Acts 9:15). In the ancient world, the most common vessels were earthenware. They were used for storing and transporting (of water, oil, grain, and olives), cooking, eating, drinking, and presenting offerings. They are found in every domestic excavation site and in graves, where they accompanied the deceased with provisions. Pottery vessels became the main type of containers in most Near Eastern cultures. Yet the vessels were fragile and their usual life spans were probably a few years at the most. Therefore, when Paul refers to his body as a clay jar, he may be regarding himself, on one level, as quite ordinary and transitory (cf. Lam. 4:2; Song Rab. 1:19: “Just as water does not keep well in a vessel of silver or gold but in the commonest of vessels, so the Torah resides only in one who makes himself like a vessel of earthenware”).

Paul’s metaphor, however, has a deeper significance: His body is a “jar of clay” because “the Lord God formed man (ʾādām) from the dust of the ground (ʾadāmāh)” (Gen. 2:7; cf. Ps. 103:14; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Sir. 33:10, 13; 1QH 1.15; 3.21; 1QS 11.21–22). The Hebrew verb yāṣar here is most often used of a potter who “forms” a vessel out of clay (cf. Isa. 29:16; 41:25; Jer. 18:4, 6; 1 Chron. 4:23; Lam. 4:2). In the account of the curse, Genesis goes on to underscore the relationship of human beings to the soil: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19; cf. Ps. 104:29; Job 10:9; 17:16; 21:26; 34:15; Eccl. 3:20; cf. Schäfer, §973). Therefore, when Paul refers to his body as a clay jar, he regards himself as having a mortal human body.

Verse 7b goes on to give the purpose for which the revelatory treasure is contained in the clay jar of Paul’s mortal body. In the previous context, Paul has been careful not to claim any credit for the surpassing glory and power of his apostolic ministry (cf. 3:6, 10). In fact, the apostle strictly denies any sufficiency in and of himself (3:5). If his body fails to emanate this glory and power, that merely underscores the point, for while Paul considers himself to possess all-surpassing power, this power is not inherently Paul’s own; it is from God (v. 7b; cf. 6:7; 12:9; 12:12).[3]


Power in weakness (4:7)

Paul contrasts a priceless jewel with its receptacle, an everyday earthen jar. The jewel, or treasure, is ‘the knowledge … of God in the face of Christ’ which God has ‘made … shine in our hearts’ (verse 6). The earthen jar in which this treasure is contained, the human body, is subject to decay and vulnerable to disease and injury. It is, in ultimate terms, powerless.

This is not accidental, but deliberate, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God (verse 7). The power to lift man out of his powerlessness in the face of suffering, decay and death does not come from within himself; it comes only from God. Man is like a jar of clay in order that the all-surpassing power might be from God, and not from ourselves. Earlier (1:8), he wrote of being ‘under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure’. Now, in exact answer, he writes of God’s power which surpasses the weakness of the human body.

It is, apparently, part of God’s plan that the power is not from us. Had this priceless treasure been contained in a strong and permanent body it would have proved a fatal combination for proud and sinful man. Like Adam, he would have reached for the heavens to be a spiritual superman, a ‘god’, a reference perhaps to Paul’s opponents (cf. 12:6–7, 11). We come to appreciate how powerful God is only when we acknowledge the certainty of our own death. This, apparently, had been Paul’s experience. Human life is short, its form easily defaced and its fabric destructible in a second. It is an earthen jar, a cheap clay pot. Hughes comments that ‘the immense discrepancy between the treasure and the vessel serves simply to attest that human weakness presents no barrier to the purposes of God, indeed, that God’s power is made perfect in weakness’.

This teaching about power in weakness, so far from being applicable only to the apostles, is, along with the teaching on transformation (3:18) and illumination (4:6), true for all believers. In fact, the opinion that the power of God impinges on man not in his supposed strength but in his real weakness is no passing sentiment, but is the theological insight, the chief theme, which binds together the whole letter and gives it its unity. It was stated near the beginning (1:8), is restated here (verse 7) and will reappear near the end in the memorable words of Jesus to Paul: ‘My power is made perfect in weakness’ (12:9).[4]


4:7. Paul began this section with a clear thesis statement that he would develop in the verses to follow. Although Paul and other apostles were determined to serve in ministry because of the light of Christ in their hearts, they had this treasure in jars of clay. The image of this metaphor is twofold. On the one hand, there is treasure. The treasure represents the new covenant ministry empowered by “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (4:6). In Paul’s day earthenware containers were used to hold many different items. Paul had in mind precious items such as silver or gold. Paul viewed the gospel and its ministry as precious cargo.

On the other hand, this priceless gospel ministry was carried about in jars of clay. Artifacts from Paul’s day indicate that not all items were stored in earthenware containers. Boxes of gold and ivory, decorated with precious stones, were available for the wealthy. Yet, it was common for items of great value to be stored in inexpensive pots of clay.

The counterpart to the jars of clay in Paul’s metaphor is the ministers themselves. Paul had in mind not only the physical body, but also the many trials and troubles that came upon him and those who ministered with him. He introduced the idea that God had placed the treasure of the gospel ministry in frail, ordinary humans. A priceless treasure was contained in common earthenware.

Paul chose this metaphor because it symbolized the reality of his ministry. He had received the incredible light of God in Christ and was commissioned to spread this gospel throughout the world on Christ’s behalf. Yet, this precious treasure did not raise Paul out of ordinary human life. He still faced the weaknesses of physical trials and persecutions in this world.

What was the purpose of this design? The grand message of Christ was carried through the world by ordinary, weak human beings to show that this all-surpassing power was from God and not from the ministers. The expression all-surpassing power alludes to 4:6, which focused on the divine power demonstrated first at the command that light appear (Gen. 1:3), and later in the order that the light of Christ shine in the hearts of believers. God spoke and the light of creation shone; he spoke and the light of re-creation shone as well.

This power of God was also evident in the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 15:18–19). The weakness of Paul and other ministers, coupled with their refusal to use deception, could not have produced the powerful, re-creative effects that the gospel produced. God chose weak creatures to minister the gospel so that it would be all the more clear that he had accomplished the work through these ministers (2 Tim. 1:8).

The effectiveness of their ministry might have caused some people to attribute honor to the ministers themselves. But Paul insisted that the weakness of the jars of clay demonstrated that ministers of the gospel deserved no glory for their work. The power came through weak instruments to demonstrate that it was from God and not from the ministers.[5]


7. And we have this treasure in earthenware pots, so that the extraordinary power may be of God and not out of us.

This verse shows double contrast: first, the treasure of gospel light (v. 6) and worthless clay pots; next, God’s supernatural power and human weakness. The first clause states a fact that in the second results in achieving purpose.

  • “And we have this treasure in earthenware pots.” The phrase and we have refers not to Paul only but to everyone who has received and possesses the good news of salvation. This treasure consists of the gospel message that we have received from the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that this message is a priceless gift that we carry around in earthenware vessels. He uses an illustration taken from everyday life: clay pots that contained everything from wealth to worthless things, from foods to liquids. Because jars, pots, and vessels were made from clay, they were subject to breakage and, therefore, were inexpensive and discarded in short order.

Jewish rabbis used to say: “It is impossible for wine to be kept in gold or silver vessels but in the most inferior of containers, namely, in earthen vessels. Similarly, the words of the Law are kept only in the person who is most humble.” An analogy is the valuable Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stored for more than two millennia in ordinary clay jars that were decaying while the scrolls remained intact. E. F. F. Bishop suggests that Paul may have had in mind “earthenware lamps of different shapes and sizes.”29 Other scholars wish to link earthenware jars to Paul’s remark about the triumphal procession in Christ (2:14). Filled with coins, grain, wine, or water, vessels were carried along in offering processions.

Lamps made out of clay spread light in every home and jars filled with various commodities were part of triumphal processions. But if Paul had intended to draw attention to either a lamp or a jar in a procession, he would have been able to express this in appropriate words. For him, the contrast of the incomparable value of the gospel and the cheap, fragile clay jars is important. He emphasizes not so much the fragile pots but their content, namely, the treasure.

Assaulted and battered numerous times, Paul’s own body was living proof of its frailty and impending mortality (5:1). For this reason, Paul uses the example of earthenware pottery to illustrate the bodies and minds of humans. He himself calls attention to the potter who fashions vessels for noble and common purposes (Rom. 9:21; Isa. 29:16; Jer. 18:6). And Jesus describes Paul as “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15, KJV).

  • “So that the extraordinary power may be of God and not out of us.” We hold the gospel as it were in clay jars to exhibit the phenomenal power of God, so that everyone may see that not we but God is its source. The original text reads: “the extraordinary (quality of the) power.” The Greek perhaps reflects Hebraic syntax that merely says “extraordinary power.” What is this great power? It is God’s word that created light (Gen. 1:3), that led Israel out of Egypt (Exod. 3:7–10), that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 1:4), and that called Paul to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16–18).

God’s power is revealed in human beings who, in the eyes of the world, are of no account. For example, a company of uneducated fishermen follow Jesus and, filled with the Holy Spirit, spread the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jason and some fellow Christians are dragged before the city officials in Thessalonica and are accused of causing trouble all over the world (Acts 17:6). Paul is told that he is unimpressive and lacks oratorical skills (10:10), yet he proclaimed the gospel, founded congregations, strengthened the believers, and composed epistles that have brought the message of salvation to countless multitudes around the globe. Commenting on his physical weakness and Christ’s power, Paul affirms that when he is weak, the divine power of Christ is resting on him (12:7–9). The authority of the gospel is not human in origin but has its source in God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36).[6]


4:7 Having spoken of the obligation to make the message plain, the Apostle Paul now thinks of the human instrument to which the wonderful gospel treasure had been committed. The treasure is the glorious message of the gospel. The earthen vessel, on the other hand, is the frail human body. The contrast between the two is tremendous. The gospel is like a precious diamond that scintillates brilliantly every way in which it is turned. To think that such a precious diamond has been entrusted to such a frail, fragile earthenware vessel!

Earthen vessels, marred, unsightly,

Bearing Wealth no thought can know;

Heav’nly Treasure, gleaming brightly—

Christ revealed in saints below!

Vessels, broken, frail, yet bearing

Through the hungry ages on,

Riches giv’n with hand unsparing,

God’s great Gift, His precious Son!

O to be but emptier, lowlier,

Mean, unnoticed and unknown,

And to God a vessel holier,

Filled with Christ, and Christ alone!

Naught of earth to cloud the Glory!

Naught of self the light to dim!

Telling forth Christ’s wondrous story,

Broken, empty—filled with Him!

Tr. Frances Bevan

Why has God ordained that this treasure should be in earthen vessels? The answer is so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. God does not want men to be occupied with the human instrument, but rather with His own power and greatness. And so He deliberately commits the gospel message to weak, often uncomely human beings. All the praise and glory must go to the Creator and not the creature.

It is a secret joy to find

The task assigned beyond our powers;

For thus, if ought of good be wrought,

Clearly the praise is His, not ours.

Houghton

Jowett says:

There is something wrong when the vessel robs the treasure of its glory, when the casket attracts more attention than the jewel which it bears. There is a very perverse emphasis when the picture takes second place to the frame, and when the ware which is used at the feast becomes a substitute for the meal. There is something deadly in Christian service when “the excellency of the power” is of us and not of God. Such excellency is of a very fleeting kind, and it will speedily wither as the green herb and pass into oblivion.

As Paul penned verse 7, it is almost certain he was thinking of an incident in Judges 7. There it is recorded that Gideon equipped his army with trumpets, empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. At the appointed signal, his men were to blow their trumpets and break the pitchers. When the pitchers were broken, the lamps shone out in brilliance. This terrified the enemy. They thought there was a vast host after them, instead of just three hundred men. The lesson is that, just as in Gideon’s case the light only shone forth when the pitchers were broken, so it is in connection with the gospel. Only when human instruments are broken and yielded to the Lord can the gospel shine forth through us in all its magnificence.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 139–142). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 469). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Scott, J. M. (2011). 2 Corinthians (pp. 103–104). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Barnett, P. (1988). The message of 2 Corinthians: power in weakness (pp. 86–87). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, pp. 337–338). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 146–147). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1834). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 12/30/2017

‘Aspiring Pastor’ Charged With Murder After Wife, Children Found Dead in Home   Dec 26, 2017 02:50 pm

KELOWNA, B.C. — A Canadian man that had aspirations to be a pastor has been charged with second-degree murder after his wife and two young daughters were recently found dead in their home. Jacob Forman, 34, made his first court appearance on Thursday after authorities found his wife of ten years, Clara, and their daughters Karina and Yesenia, 7 and 8…

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‘We’ve Prayed About It’: Professing ‘Christian’ Couple Refuses Woman’s Pleas Not to Abort Baby   Dec 27, 2017 03:50 pm

A viral video posted to social media on Friday shows a man and woman who professed to be Christians declining a woman’s pleas not to abort their baby, stating that the child would interfere with their plans and that they had “prayed about” the matter. While the background behind the video, such as the location of the recording, has not been divulged, the footage…

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Oregon Court Upholds Order to Pay $135K in ‘Emotional Damages’ for Declining to Make Cake for Same-Sex ‘Wedding’   Dec 28, 2017 07:09 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 in “emotional damages” to two lesbian women for declining to make a cake for their same-sex “wedding” in 2014. “iven BOLI’s detailed factual findings about the effect of the refusal of service on these…

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‘May God Have Mercy on Your Soul’: Oklahoma Muslim Who Beheaded Coworker Sentenced to Death   Dec 24, 2017 05:25 pm

NORMAN, Okla. — A Muslim man who beheaded his coworker three years ago and attempted a decapitate a second woman has been sentenced to death after a jury determined that he was eligible for capital punishment. “I can’t bring Colleen back, and it’s unfortunate that another life will be taken. May God have mercy on your soul,” Cleveland County Judge Lori…

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Trump White House Sends Congratulatory Letter to Prosperity Preacher Kenneth Copeland for ’50 Years of Ministry’   Dec 29, 2017 09:22 am

WASHINGTON — Prosperity and Word of Faith preacher Kenneth Copeland posted a photo to social media on Tuesday of a letter that he received from President Trump congratulating him for “50 years of ministry.” “Melania and I send our warmest wishes as you celebrate 50 years of ministry,” began the letter, which was dated Aug. 16 but just shared this week. “For…

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Judge Declines to Issue Emergency Injunction Against Baker Who Wouldn’t Make Same-Sex ‘Wedding’ Cake   Dec 23, 2017 06:27 pm

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A state judge in California has declined to grant an emergency injunction against a baker who declined a request to make a same-sex “wedding” cake due to her religious beliefs, but also offered to call an accommodating business on behalf of the two lesbians seeking the cake for their event. Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe…

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California Teen Asks School Board to Change Policy Banning ‘Religious Theories’ in Science Class   Dec 26, 2017 12:26 pm

ANGELS CAMP, Calif. — A sophomore student at a public high school in California is requesting that his school district change its policy prohibiting the discussion of Creation beliefs in science class. Grayson Mobley, 16, spoke to the Bret Harte Union High School Board earlier this month to ask that he be allowed to politely cite his beliefs when pertinent….

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Atheist Group Wants Arkansas Governor to Stop Posting Bible Verses on Official Social Media Pages   Dec 23, 2017 12:40 pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One of the most conspicuous professing atheist groups in the nation has sent a letter to the governor of Arkansas to request that he stop posting Bible verses on his government-related social media pages. Gov. Asa Hutchinson posts a Scripture to his Twitter and Facebook accounts each Sunday, sharing verses such as, “I will give thanks to the…

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ACLU Sues Healthcare Network for Cancelling Chest Surgery of Woman Who Identifies as Man   Dec 29, 2017 06:15 pm

SEATTLE, Wash. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the largest healthcare network in Washington State after chest reconstruction surgery scheduled for a woman who identifies as a man was cancelled and she had to obtain the operation elsewhere. According to the complaint filed by the ACLU, the 30-year-old woman, who goes by the name…

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UK Mother Declines Abortion After Baby Diagnosed With Rare Lung Condition   Dec 26, 2017 11:38 pm

HULL, East Yorkshire — A mother in the UK is thankful for her son after she declined to abort him upon learning that he had a rare lung condition. “I was given the option to terminate the pregnancy as it was unlikely the baby would survive, but there was no doubt in my mind that I would carry on,” Yvonne Excell recalled to the Hull Daily Mail. Excell was 20…

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DECEMBER 30 GOD’S SOVEREIGN PLAN

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God…For he must reign.

1 Corinthians 15:24–25

Many people continue to live in daily fear that the world “is coming to an end.”

Only in the Scriptures do we have the description and prediction of the age-ending heavenly and earthly events when our Lord and Savior will be universally acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords.

God’s revelation makes it plain that in “that day” all will acclaim Him “victor”!

Human society, generally, refuses to recognize God’s sovereignty or His plan for His redeemed people. But no human being or world government will have any control in that fiery day of judgment yet to come.

John’s vision of things to come tells us clearly and openly that at the appropriate time this world will be taken away from men and placed in the hands of the only Man who has the wisdom and authority to rightly govern.

That Man is the eternal Son of God, the worthy Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ!

Dear Lord, I pray today for the remaining people groups in the world who have not yet heard the gospel message. Without knowing You, Father, many will be lost eternally when the end of the world comes. Lord, raise up specific individuals to take Your Word to those remaining peoples.[1]


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

Aligning with a false Christ – condoned by Bethel church.

We here at ChurchWatch Central are very grateful for the ministry and support of ‘Famine In The Land”. With thanks to Rick Becker for adding his biblical perspective  on the ‘Christalignment’ debacle.


“Christalignment” is a “ministry” condoned by Bethel church.  Bethel and “Christalignment” have no problem with going undercover at psychic fairs. Christalignment offer “card readings” at events such as Sexpo, Rainbow Serpent and Queer Expo.  This is a sign of the times – an apostate church participating in and promoting works of darkness instead of exposing them.

  Jenny Hodge (left) at “Queer expo Melbourne”

Jenny Hodge of “Christalignment” – a “ministry” condoned by Kris Vallotton and Theresa Dedmon of Bethel “church” offer “readings” at various events.
“Readings” are done through the use of tarot  “destiny cards”
From their own  website  :

Our Cards lead the way…….

” You can’t come into your destiny until you take…

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Pastors: Stop Trying to be Popular

The good news about Christ can only be appreciated with the bad news as the backdrop. There are times when the saints must be fed, and there are times when the sinners must be warned (C.H. Spurgeon).

(Shane Idelman – ChristianHeadlines)  A few years back, I listened in astonishment as some​ prominent “Christian” leaders talked about replacing “preaching” with “having a conversation.”

At first, I thought that they might be confusing individual conversations with how we should speak to the masses, but I was wrong. They felt that we should stop “preaching” from the pulpit and start being more passive and less confrontational. Never mind the fact that Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). But according to many, it’s time to replace the pulpit with a couch and preaching with conversing.

It’s not my practice to name names, or reference churches, but when they depart from truth they open themselves up for exposure. Sadly, many churches carry their books, promote their material, and seek to model their church after them.​​ ​

There is a very troubling trend in the evangelical church as a whole. We are in desperate need of genuine leadership—broken, humble people who are not afraid to admit that they need God; men who are more worried about prayer than about status and recognition; men who petition God rather than position themselves. Many men want the recognition, but not the brokenness; the honor, but not the humility. The state of the family today is disheartening as well. Men have largely forsaken their God-given role as spiritual leaders in their homes…that, no one can deny. And I believe that the pulpit is partly to blame.

Today, the truth is often neglected, watered-down, or avoided altogether in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned; repentance is never sought; and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict.  View article →

Source: Pastors: Stop Trying to be Popular

December 30 Perils of the Dragnet, Part 2

… and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.—Matt. 13:50

Continuing from yesterday, we can learn several more biblical truths about hell, the dragnet’s ultimate peril. For example, the lost will suffer hell’s torments in varying degrees. Those who willfully reject Jesus Christ and blatantly scorn His sacrifice will receive far greater punishment than people who had only the light of the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews writes, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28–29; cf. Matt. 11:22–23).

Concerning the slaves who waited for their master’s return, Christ’s parable states that “that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” (Luke 12:47–48).

Finally, nothing will be as horrible about hell’s torment as its endlessness. The Lord uses “eternal” to describe both heaven’s and hell’s duration: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Sadly, people who experience hell will realize a complete absence of hope for all eternity. But rejoice if you are a believer—you have a hope of heaven that will be validated for all eternity.

ASK YOURSELF

The sensitive person asks, “How can a loving God doom a person to hell? ” What is your answer to this common question and complaint? How is justice involved? Why would some be spared? Know how to respond to this type of opinion ahead of time.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 373). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 30 Absent from the Body, Present with the Lord

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:8

When a believer leaves this world, he goes immediately to be in the presence of Christ. There is no “soul sleep” or intermediate waiting place, nor does the Bible teach that there is any place called purgatory. Notice the apostle Paul’s desire was “to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23, emphasis added).

Today’s verse indicates that when we are absent from the body, which sleeps until the resurrection, our spirits are present with the Lord. Paul also told the Thessalonians that Christ “died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). Paul’s point is that whether we are physically awake (alive) or physically asleep (dead), as believers we are with Christ. We are in His presence in a spiritual sense now and in a literal sense when our bodies are dead.

You can rejoice in the fact that there is no time in your life as a believer when you will ever be out of the conscious presence of Jesus Christ.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 391). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 30, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

God’s Enoch

Genesis 5:21–24

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

In the midst of the genealogy of Genesis 5 there is a most interesting man: Enoch. He walked with God in an age when practically no one else did. He is an example of faith when it stands alone.

It is an interesting feature of the biblical references to this person that more is said about Enoch in the New Testament than in the Old. In the whole of the Bible there are only five passages that refer to Enoch. Two of these are genealogies in which only his name is mentioned (1 Chron. 1:3; Luke 3:37), nothing else being said about him. So that leaves only three passages of importance. The first is our text in Genesis. It says, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen. 5:21–24). The second passage is in Hebrews: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). The third passage is in Jude. “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him’ ” (Jude 14–15).

That makes four Old Testament verses as opposed to three New Testament verses. But in terms of the number of words, there are only fifty-one words in the Old Testament as opposed to ninety-four words in the New Testament (based on the niv). More importantly, there are things told us about Enoch in the New Testament that are not even suggested in the Old.

Seventh from Adam

I begin with the last of these references, the reference in Jude. It is because of a phrase that is found there: “seventh from Adam.” That is a curious phrase. Seventh from Adam! Why does God say that Enoch was the seventh descendant in Adam’s line?

At first glance the phrase seems unnecessary, particularly since no similar indication of descent is given for any other biblical character. But it is soon explained when we realize that there were two Enochs in this period, both probably living at the same time, and that one was the seventh descendant from Adam through the line of Seth, while the other was the third descendant from Adam through the line of Cain. The Enoch who descended from Adam through the line of Seth was godly. He is our Enoch. The Enoch who descended from Adam through the line of Cain was godless. He is the devil’s Enoch. So Jude’s identification of Enoch as the seventh from Adam is a way of distinguishing the two. It is as if God is saying, “I want you to follow Enoch. But don’t get confused. I don’t mean the Enoch who is in the fourth chapter of Genesis, the third from Adam. That’s the devil’s Enoch. I mean the Enoch who was the seventh from Adam.”

There is not much told about the Enoch who descended from Cain, but there is enough. First, he was Cain’s son. Presumably he was trained by Cain and participated in the spirit of Cain’s rebellion. Second, his name was given to the first city, which we know was a very wicked city. Third, his descendants were ungodly. In time they produced Lamech, the seventh in Cain’s line. He boasted of a murder and wrote a song about it. This boast—“I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times”—is the last we hear from this line before the flood swept it away. By contrast, the Enoch who descended from Seth is said to have “walked with God” and to have preached righteousness.

This has practical applications. It suggests that there is a parallel between those who are God’s people and those who are the devil’s, and it encourages us always to imitate God’s people. Let me spell it out. The devil has his men and women, and God has his men and women. The devil has his doctors; God has his doctors. The devil has his convicts; God has his convicts, who by his grace are lifted out of a life of crime. The devil has his lawyers; God has his lawyers. The devil has his housewives, who gossip and flirt and sometimes commit adultery; God has his housewives, who establish godly homes and raise their children in the knowledge and love of Jesus. The devil has his teachers; God has his teachers. The devil even has his preachers, whose sin against knowledge will produce the greater damnation; God has his preachers, who speak the truth. God wants us to see this contrast and pattern our lives after the lives of the godly.

This contrast even suggests the answer to the continuing existence of evil in this world. God is demonstrating the difference between the lives of those who go their own way, sin and bear the consequences, and those who seek to obey God. God is bringing glory and blessing out of the lives of his people; the devil is not able to do that with his children. Enoch was one in whose life God brought blessing.

Preacher of Righteousness

The reference to Enoch in Jude tells something else about this great antediluvian: he was a preacher. And it gives a hint as to the content of his preaching. Enoch’s message had two parts: first, a proclamation of the Lord’s coming in judgment and, second, a denunciation of the ungodliness that was all too visible in the degenerate culture of those days. He said, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

When we read these words we understand rightly that the coming of the Lord referred to here is the second coming of Christ at which time the world will be judged. I do not know whether Enoch fully understood this in the sense that Jesus would come a first time to die and then a second time in judgment. At this early stage of God’s revelation of himself to men and women, probably no one saw this clearly. But Enoch did see something that perhaps even the other godly descendants of Adam did not see.

We remember that the hope of the people of God in this period was the promise of a deliverer to come, preserved in God’s words of judgment on the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15). As we studied the verses that follow this promise, we saw how Adam and then also Eve seized on it and lived in hope of that deliverer. Eve named her first child Cain, meaning, “here he is,” because she mistakenly thought that he was the one who would rescue them from their sad state and return them to Paradise. In this period all God’s people presumably lived in hope of this appearance. But now Enoch comes along and preaches that the Lord is indeed coming but that his coming will not be the coming in which Satan is defeated and redemption achieved, but rather a coming in judgment on all the ungodly deeds of men and women. For Enoch’s age, this promise was fulfilled in the deluge. What Enoch saw (and what we need also to see) is that the promises of God to deliver are not blanket promises meant to encompass all, as if all necessarily must be saved, but promises only for those who are God’s people and who show that relationship by obedience.

We know how Amos put it. Though living ungodly lives, the people of his day held a fond hope that whenever the Lord came to earth everything would be set right and they would be restored and vindicated. After all, were they not the people of God? Were they not the descendants of Adam and Abraham and all the other patriarchs? Amos responded:

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord!

Why do you long for the day of the Lord?

That day will be darkness, not light.

It will be as though a man fled from a lion

only to meet a bear,

as though he entered his house

and rested his hand on the wall

only to have a snake bite him.

Amos 5:18–19

This truth needs to be spoken clearly today. God is a God of mercy, but he is a God of judgment as well. That judgment will surely come on all who walk in the way of Cain, unless they repent and come to God through faith in the sacrifice of Christ, which God has provided.

The second part of Enoch’s preaching concerned the ungodliness of his age. He preached that the Lord was coming “to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” If we look carefully at Jude’s reference to Enoch, we see that it is actually only one sentence and that the words I have just quoted are only a part of that sentence—approximately half. But in that one-half sentence, containing only twenty-nine words, Enoch uses the word “ungodly” four times. That is, one seventh of his recorded words are the single word “ungodly.” What do you think would be the single most spoken word in the sermons of most contemporary preachers? Love? Joy? Peace? Involvement? I assure you that it would not be the word “ungodly.” Yet that was the essential theme of Enoch’s preaching.

We can apply that easily. Enoch lived just before the flood, as we have indicated, and this was a sinful age. There is a brief description of it in Genesis 6:1–7, in which God says that “man’s wickedness on earth” had become great “and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (v. 5). The age was marked by sexual promiscuity, materialism, demonism, and other things that undoubtedly accompanied such sin. It was a terrible time. We look at it and are appalled. But that age was not essentially different from our own. We too have sexual promiscuity, materialism, spiritism, the occult. Moreover, we have rape and murder and drug addiction and prostitution. We have wholesale murder of the unborn—even of some who are born but are discovered to have physical defects. How dare we point the finger at the antediluvian culture and say “Ungodly!” when we are so manifestly ungodly ourselves? What would Enoch say if he were here today? Would he not say precisely what he said so many thousand years ago: “Ungodly … ungodly … ungodly … ungodly”? Ungodly is the word most singularly appropriate to our age.

And what is the outcome? In Enoch’s day it was the terrible judgment of God by flood, recorded in the next major section of Genesis. Is a similar judgment not in store for our equally godless culture? God is not mocked! Indeed, our Lord has warned us of this explicitly. He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37–39).

If these are such days and if the future coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will be a judgment comparable even to the flood, should not our preaching and witnessing be as filled with condemnation of sin as was the preaching of Enoch and equally as insistent in warning people to flee from the wrath to come?

He Walked with God

I turn now to the original mention of Enoch in Scripture, which is our text in Genesis. This passage does not record his preaching. On the surface it seems merely to be a record of the years of Enoch’s life and the fact that he was the father of Methuselah. In all, it contains only fifty-one words. But in those fifty-one words, strikingly, much as Jude 14 and 15 repeat the one word “ungodly” four times, we are told twice over that Enoch “walked with God.” We read, “Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen. 5:22–24).

What does it mean “to walk with God”? It means a number of things that various verses in the Bible state quite clearly. First, it means to walk by faith in God, not trusting to our own understanding but believing him when he tells us what we should do and how to do it. Second Corinthians 5:7 states this when it says that we are to “live by faith, not by sight.” Enoch lived by faith, for it is for faith that he is praised in Hebrews: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:5–6).

The second requirement for walking with God is holiness. God is holy, and those who would have fellowship with him must be holy as well. John declares this in his first letter: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5–7).

Third, there must be agreement as to the direction we should go, and this means agreeing with God who has planned the way for us. Amos states this by asking, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3). Obviously not! So if Enoch walked with God, it was clearly because he was not fighting or resisting God but was delighting to walk as God directed him.

Moreover, he was doing this for a long period of time. You will notice, I am sure, that Genesis 5:21–24 applies one use of the phrase “he walked with God” to the time in Enoch’s life immediately after the birth of Methuselah, when Enoch was 65 years old, and the other use of the phrase “he walked with God” to the end of Enoch’s life, when God took him to be with himself. At that time Enoch was 365 years old. The teaching is that Enoch walked with God for 300 years. This was no casual stroll. It was the walk of a lifetime. Moreover, it was a walk and not a sprint or run. Nearly anyone can sprint for a short time or distance, but no one can do it for long. For the long haul you need to walk, and this is what Enoch did. We need people who will walk with God today. Not flashes-in-the-pan. Nor shooting stars who attract you more by their passing brilliance than by their substance. We need steady, faithful people who know God and are coming to know him better day by day.

At this point the texts in Genesis and Jude come together, for why do you suppose Enoch was so conscious of the ungodliness of his generation and so strong in preaching against it? It was because he walked with God. And what do you suppose was the result of his walking with God? Obviously a growth in holiness as a result of which he perceived the true nature of ungodliness. The two always go together. If you walk with God, you will be opposed to sin. But if you do not walk with God, sin will not seem to be so bad to you and you will inevitably accommodate yourself to it.

One way we accommodate ourselves to sin is by calling it by some other name. We call sin “failure,” or we say we’ve made “a mistake.” We call pride “self-esteem,” selfishness “fulfillment,” lust “an instinct.” If we cheat in business, we call it “protecting our own interests.” If we commit adultery, we call it “an attempt to save the marriage.” We call murdering an unborn child “terminating a pregnancy.” What hypocrites we are! How offensive we must be to God, who is obviously not taken in by our reinterpretations but who calls sin, sin and evil, evil. Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Likewise, sin by any other name will smell as putrid. You and I will never grow in holiness unless we see sin for what it is and call it sin, and we will never learn to do that unless we walk closely with God. It is when we walk with God that we learn to call things by God’s vocabulary.

Enoch Pleased God

I turn finally to the third of the three major texts that mention Enoch, Hebrews 11:5, which tells us that “Enoch … pleased God.” This is the obvious culmination of the account of Enoch’s life, for having walked with God and having thereby come to recognize sin as sin and to have turned from it, Enoch inevitably pleased God in what he did. What could be a better testimony for any human life? What could be a better achievement than to have it said that you or I pleased God?

We note that if we please God, we will not be in a position of pleasing most men and women, at least not the ungodly. By the time Enoch died, by the sheer mathematics of birth and reproduction, there were probably several million of Adam’s descendants on earth. These were Enoch’s relatives, mostly cousins. It was these whom Enoch called “ungodly,” and we can be sure that he was not popular with them. But although Enoch may not have pleased his cousins, he has this testimony—that he pleased God. That is what counted. May it also be true of us. If possible, we wish to grow “in favor with God and men” (cf. Luke 2:52). But if the choice is necessary, as it often is, may it never be said that we choose to please men and women rather than God but that we choose to please God regardless of the consequences.

The end of the story is that the day came in Enoch’s life—when he was 365 years old—when God simply took him home to be with himself. They had been out walking, and God simply said, “Let’s not go back to your place tonight. Why don’t you just come home with me?” And so he did.

Martin Luther has fun with this idea in his exposition of Genesis, for he imagines the effect of the translation of Enoch on his godly friends. He notes how Enoch’s father and grandfather would have been disturbed. They would have launched a manhunt. They would have been wondering what could have become of this great preacher of righteousness. No doubt they suspected foul play on the part of Cain’s descendants. Enoch had preached against their wickedness. Perhaps he had been slain, like Abel, and buried secretly. At last, through the revelation of God they learn that Enoch had not been murdered but had simply been taken away by God and given a place in paradise. Why should God have acted this way? Luther asks. It was, he says, to show that death is not the end but rather “that there has been prepared and set aside for men another and also a better life than this present life which is replete with so many misfortunes and evils.” Enoch was God’s testimony to the fact that those who walk with God in this life will also walk with God in a better life hereafter, thanks to the future work “of the promised Seed.”

That was the hope of those who lived before the flood, and it is our hope also. Let us live in that hope and walk with God now so that we may also walk with him in that blessed age to come.[1]


5:21–24 The most fascinating name in this listing is that of Enoch (not the son of Cain of the same name, 4:17). The phrase, Enoch walked with God (vv. 22, 24), expresses a life of fellowship with and obedience to the Lord (as was true of Noah, 6:8). It also recalls the experience of Adam and Eve, who had lived in even closer proximity to the Lord before the Fall (3:8). he was not: This phrase does not mean that Enoch ceased to exist but that he was taken into God’s presence, for God took him. Only Enoch and Elijah (2 Kin. 2:11) ever had this experience. Enoch’s remarkable experience was both a testimony of his deep faith in God (Heb. 11:5, 6) and a strong reminder at the beginning of biblical history that there is life in God’s presence after death for the people of God. What Enoch experienced in a remarkable, dramatic fashion is what each person who “walks with God” will experience—everlasting life with the Savior.[2]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (pp. 283–290). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 17). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

DECEMBER 30 WALKING IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS LORD

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

—Revelation 5:13

One of the purest souls ever to live on this fallen planet was Nicholas Herman, that simple-hearted Christian known throughout the world as Brother Lawrence….

Early in his life Brother Lawrence found Christ as his own Savior and Lord and entered into what he called “the unspeakable riches of God and of Jesus Christ.” He was a common cook but he learned to turn the modest service into a kind of worship….

He spent his long life walking in the presence of his Lord, and when he came to die there was no need for any particular change in his occupation. At the last hour someone asked him what was going on in his thoughts as death approached. He replied simply: “I am doing what I shall do through all eternity—blessing God, praising God, adoring God, giving Him the love of my whole heart. It is our one business, my brethren, to worship Him and love Him without thought of anything else.” PON022-023

Lord, may I live now as I will for all of time, praising and adoring You with my whole heart. Amen. [1]


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

December 30 Sustaining the Universe

“[Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Colossians 1:17

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The eternal Christ sustains His creation.

When the universe began, Christ already existed. The apostle John spoke of Christ’s eternal existence this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1–3). Christ Himself testified of the same truth when He told the Jews, “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). He was saying that He is Yahweh, the eternally existing God. The prophet Micah said of Him, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2). Revelation 22:13 describes Him as “the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Christ has preeminence over all creation because He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17). He already existed when the universe began because He is the eternal God.

Having created the universe, Christ sustains all He has created (v. 17). He maintains the delicate balance necessary to life’s existence. He is the power behind every consistency in the universe and the One who keeps all the entities in space in their motion. He is the energy behind the universe.

Christ, however, will not always sustain our present universe. One day in the future He will dissolve the heavens and earth. The apostle Peter describes that day, when “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Until that time, we can be thankful that Christ continues to sustain it.

How encouraging to know that the eternal God who sustains the entire universe is also watching over you. No detail of your life is too small for His concern; no circumstance is too big for His sovereign control.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for caring for the details of your life while He controls the universe.

For Further Study: According to Hebrews 1:3, what does God uphold? How?[1]


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

December 29 Daily Help

HIS presence will be most realized by those who are most like him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ’s desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you will be in fellowship with him. Remember his presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us. If he doth not come, it is because we hinder him by our indifference. He will reveal himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to his people.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 367). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

December 29, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

The Merciful Intercession Of Christ

But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (23:34a)

This is the first of the Lord’s seven sayings from the cross. One might expect that He would have pronounced judgment on those mocking Him, who were committing the ultimate act of blasphemy. Instead, in an act of mercy, He asked the Father to forgive those most wretched of sinners for their ignorant blasphemy, because, He said, “they do not know what they are doing”; that is, they were not aware of the full scope of their wickedness. “If they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8).

Instead of seeking vengeance on His enemies, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Justice would eventually be served; judgment would fall on the rejecting, unbelieving nation. But in God’s grace and mercy, it would be delayed for forty years. Christ’s intercession on behalf of His tormenters is yet another fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Isa. 53:12).

Christ’s petition was in one sense a general prayer, revealing that there is no sin against the Son of God so severe that it cannot be forgiven those who repent (cf. Matt. 12:31–32). If forgiveness is available for those who crucified Him, it is available for anyone. But it is also a specific prayer that God would forgive those among the crowd whom He had chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand Jews in Jerusalem were converted to Christ and baptized and the church was born. Within a few weeks, another five thousand or more people in Jerusalem embraced the faith of Jesus Christ. Surely many of those who came to Christ in those weeks after the resurrection were there in the crowd that day at Calvary. The church was in large measure born out of those who stood there and mocked the Son of God in answer to this prayer. The centurion and the soldiers under his command also came to faith in Christ (Matt. 27:54), as did many of the priests (Acts 6:7), possibly even some of the rulers. Even one of the hardened criminals crucified alongside Jesus was saved, and it is to the story of that conversion that Luke now turns.[1]


23:34. Jesus had proven his ability to forgive sins in his healing ministry (5:24). He had taught that forgiveness comes only to those who forgive others (6:37; 11:4) and that forgiveness has no limits (17:4). He had called for love of enemies (6:27–28). On the cross he practiced what he had taught. He watched those who mocked him, played games with him, scourged him, and crucified him. Then he asked the Father to forgive them. He called for forgiveness because he loved his enemies, but the explicit reason was their ignorance. Neither Jewish accuser nor Roman executor fully realized the gravity of their actions. The Jews were protecting their religious establishment against this obnoxious newcomer who pulled the crowds away from them and demanded that they look at motivation rather than simple legal action. The Romans in the person of Pilate protected their political territory against one who proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand. Both Roman and Jew acted defensively in putting personal self-interest and political and religious institutions above the call for justice. Blinded by self-interest, they never realized that they were executing an innocent man. They certainly were not aware that they were executing the Son of God who came to save his people from their sins. Jesus went beyond the call for justice to pour out grace on those who executed him.

Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness leads to a deeper question. Does God forgive sins of ignorance? This passage does not answer that question. It does show that God can forgive the most heinous crimes. It shows that God knows the complex causes of sin and the interplay of motivations that lead to the most horrible sins. It shows the need for victims of sin and crime to forgive and seek forgiveness for those who have misused, abused, and persecuted them.

As Jesus prayed for forgiveness, the Roman soldiers continued their mocking games, taking his clothes and casting lots for them. In this act they fulfilled Psalm 22:18, although Luke does not explicitly say so. Nothing the Romans or Jews did caught God by surprise. He knew his Son would die, suffering for the sins of the world (Isa. 53). He knew the Romans would gamble for his few earthly possessions.[2]


34a. Then Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

On the omission of these words from certain manuscripts see the note on this passage on page 1040.

In all probability what we have here is the first of

The Seven Words of the Cross:

  1. From 9 o’clock until noon:

(1) “Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

(2) “I solemnly declare to you, Today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

(3) “Woman, look, your son!… Look, your mother!” (John 19:27).

  1. The three hours of darkness: from noon until 3 o’clock; no words reported.
  2. About 3 o’clock:

(4) “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

(5) “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

(6) “It is finished” (John 19:30).

(7) “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

It is certainly in keeping with the spirit of Luke’s Gospel that the three “words” in which the love of God as reflected in the Son is most emphatically set forth are found here (words 1, 2, and 7).

It is deplorable that so much opposition has arisen against this first saying. Some would exclude it entirely, and others try to tone it down.

The reasoning of some is as follows: those who killed Jesus were reprobates. God does not in any sense bless reprobates. Therefore Jesus cannot have asked that they be forgiven. Besides, the verb here used has a very wide meaning (this, by the way, is true). Conclusion: Jesus must have meant, “Father, hold back thy wrath; do not immediately pour out the full measure of thy fury.”

The true meaning of the earnest supplication is probably as follows:

  • “Forgive them” means exactly that. It means “Blot out their transgression completely. In thy sovereign grace cause them to repent truly, so that they can be and will be pardoned fully.”
  • That this is the meaning is clear from the fact that the grammatical construction is exactly the same as in 11:4, “And forgive us our sins,” and as in 17:3, “If he repents, forgive him.”
  • Is it even conceivable that he who insists so strongly that his followers must forgive every debtor, and that they must even love their enemies, should not exemplify this virtue himself?
  • When Stephen, at death’s portal, clearly in imitation of the dying Christ, prayed, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” was he not giving us the truest interpretation of Christ’s supplication, “Father, forgive them”?
  • Take special note of the word Father. What trust, what love! We are reminded of “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15, A.V.).
  • Is it not marvelous beyond words that Jesus, in his earnest intercession for his torturers, even presents to the Father a special plea, an argument, as it were, for the granting of his petition, namely, “for they do not know what they are doing”?

It was true: the soldiers certainly did not know. But even the members of the Sanhedrin, though they must have known that what they were doing was wicked, did not comprehend the extent of that wickedness.

Did the Father hear and answer this prayer? Part of the answer may well be the fact that Jerusalem’s fall did not occur immediately. For a period of about forty years the gospel of salvation full and free was still being proclaimed to the Jews. Not only that but also: many were actually led to the Lord. On the day of Pentecost three thousand were converted (Acts 2:31, 42); a little later thousands more (Acts 4:4). Even “a large number of priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Not the people as a whole, but many families and individuals were converted.

  • By offering this prayer Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isa. 53: “Yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” See also on Luke 22:37.[3]

23:34a / The earliest manuscripts do not contain the first part of v. 34 (“Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ”). The saying may have been inserted as a parallel to Acts 7:60b where Stephen offers a similar prayer of forgiveness (see Fitzmyer, pp. 1503–4). If original (so Ellis, pp. 267–68; Marshall, p. 868; Schweizer, pp. 359–60; J. T. Sanders, p. 227), it presents Jesus as willing to forgive those who have committed an inexcusable crime against him. Jesus asks that they be forgiven on the grounds that they did not know what they were doing. According to Lev. 4:2 and Num. 15:25–29, atonement is possible for one who has sinned unwittingly. Perhaps this underlies Jesus’ prayer. Sanders (p. 63) thinks that the purpose of this prayer is only to make possible the initial offer of repentance to the Jewish people (as seen in the early chapters of Acts), an offer that is withdrawn after the martyrdom of Stephen. This line of interpretation is surely faulty. Since Stephen’s prayer (Acts 7:60) closely parallels the prayer of Jesus, should not the same function be assigned to it as well? Why would Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness make possible the offer of repentance to Jews, while Stephen’s similar prayer would not? The Lucan prayers of forgiveness are not clever devices that are designed, as part of an anti-Semitic agenda, to advance the plot of the Lucan narrative (as J. T. Sanders maintains). These prayers represent a genuine desire for reconciliation. It is hard to believe that if the evangelist were truly anti-Semitic, as Sanders supposes, he would go out of his way to supply two prayers of forgiveness in behalf of persons who have been presented as wrongly putting to death Jesus and one of his followers. Had Luke truly hated the Jews, and believed that there could be no forgiveness for them, he could have adopted a much harsher biblical precedent. Consider the words of an angry Isaiah: “Forgive them not!” (Isa. 2:6, 9). Compare also the unforgiving words of the martyred sons of the Maccabean revolt: “For you [i.e., Antiochus IV] there will be no resurrection to life!” (2 Macc. 7:14); “Keep on, and see how [God’s] mighty power will torture you and your descendants!” (2 Macc. 7:17); “Do not think that you will go unpunished for having tried to fight against God!” (2 Macc. 7:19; cf. the parallel versions in 4 Macc. 9:9, 32; 10:11, 21; 12:12, 14, 18; 5 Macc. 5:17, 23, 46–51). Nothing is more out of step with these embittered expressions than the prayers of forgiveness we find on the lips of two significant protagonists in the narrative of Luke–Acts.[4]


23:34 With infinite love and mercy, Jesus cried from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Who knows what a Niagara of divine wrath was averted by this prayer! Morgan comments on the Savior’s love:

In the soul of Jesus there was no resentment; no anger, no lurking desire for punishment upon the men who were maltreating Him. Men have spoken in admiration of the mailed fist. When I hear Jesus thus pray, I know that the only place for the mailed fist is in hell.

Then followed the dividing of His garments among the soldiers, and the casting of lots for His seamless robe.[5]


23:34 forgive them: Those who put Jesus to death acted in ignorance, not really understanding who it was they were killing. Jesus’ example of interceding for His executioners was followed by Stephen in Acts 7:60. divided His garments and cast lots: The language here alludes to the suffering Righteous One of Ps. 22:18.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2014). Luke 18–24 (pp. 384–385). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 392–393). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, pp. 1027–1028). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (pp. 340–341). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1455). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1302). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

December 29: The Grace of God Shines Through

Lamentations 1:1–2:22; Romans 15:8–21; Proverbs 30:1–33

I was once asked why the Bible is so brutal—why it depicts things like babies being killed and war. It’s true, the Bible has many moments of darkness and violence. But these depictions of the rawness of humanity—in all its ungratefulness and depravity—demonstrate how much people need God. And more than that, through these moments, the Bible shows how much people need a savior.

The book of Lamentations is brimming with sorrow and gnashing of teeth. Little hope can be found in this book. The prophet weeps and moans over his fallen nation, over watching Jerusalem crumble. In this poetic work, we see people who don’t follow the God who loves them dearly and so badly yearns to see them return to Him.

“How desolate the city sits that was full of people! She has become like a widow, once great among the nations! Like a woman of nobility in the provinces, she has become a forced laborer. She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; she has no comforter among all her lovers. All her friends have been unfaithful to her; they have become her enemies” (Lam 1:1–2). How can we process a passage like this? How can we handle this kind of depression?

The first time I read the book of Lamentations, I wept. I had grasped a bit of what the prophet felt, and weeping was the only natural response. But it wasn’t just that. I saw myself as Jerusalem. I was her. I had walked away from God’s desire for my life, and I deserved destruction.

Sometimes we must break before we can be rebuilt. Sometimes we must fall before we can rise to the greatness God has called us to. Are you Jerusalem? Call out to God like the prophet did. Tell God how you feel. Be honest with your mourning and your sadness. It may not make the fall easier, but it will surely make you more eager to accept the grace that God has offered. God wants you to experience His grace, including salvation in Christ. He wants you to live it.

Are you in need of a savior? What are you requesting of God today? What grace do you need to receive?

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.