Daily Archives: February 21, 2018

February 21 Maintaining Spiritual Integrity

“… in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10).

✧✧✧

Seek to have a life that bears scrutiny.

In our society, those whose lives are marked by moral soundness, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity are usually thought of as people of integrity. However, society’s standards often fall far short of God’s. Spiritual integrity calls for the highest possible standard of behavior and requires supernatural resources available only to those who trust in Him.

Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9–10 outlines the path to spiritual integrity. It begins with “love” that abounds with “knowledge and all discernment” (v. 9) and progresses to the pursuit of excellence (v. 10). The result is sincerity and blamelessness—two characteristics of godly integrity.

The Greek word translated “sincere” in verse 10 speaks of genuineness and authenticity. It literally means “without wax” and is an allusion to the practice of inspecting pottery by holding it up to the sunlight. In ancient times pottery often cracked during the firing process. Rather than discarding cracked pieces, dishonest dealers often filled the cracks with wax and sold them to unsuspecting customers. Holding a pot up to the sunlight revealed any flaws and protected the customer from a bad purchase.

Following that analogy, Biblical integrity requires that you be without wax, having no hypocrisy or secret sins that show up when you’re under pressure or facing temptation.

“Blameless” speaks of consistency in living a life that doesn’t lead others into error or sin. Your standard is to be the same away from church as it is at church.

Being blameless isn’t easy in a world that unashamedly flaunts its sinful practices. You must guard against losing your sensitivity to the heinousness of sin and unwittingly beginning to tolerate or even accept the sin that once shocked you. That’s when you lose integrity and begin to cause others to stumble.

Diligently pursue integrity with a view toward glorifying Christ in all things until He returns!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that He is “able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in His presence . . . blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). ✧ Prayerfully guard your heart and mind from the subtle evil influences that can erode your integrity and make you ineffective for the Lord.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 39. ✧ How was Joseph’s integrity challenged? ✧ How did God honor Joseph’s commitment to godly integrity?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 64). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 21 “CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD”

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

JOHN 3:3

The miracle of the new birth was foreshadowed in the Old Testament record: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

There was at least a hint of miracle within the human breast—not the reasoning of yourself into a position, but something happening that could not be explained! Coming into the New Testament, there is no longer any hinting or suggesting about the miracle of the new birth—it is boldly and openly declared. Our Saviour said that if we come to Him and are not born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of God—that we must be born from above.

Paul told the Corinthians: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

You couldn’t make it any stronger than that! Something happens in a man’s nature that no man can explain!

Just the moment that a man’s experience in Christ can be broken down and explained by the psychologists, we have a church member on our hands—and not a Christian! For that which must happen in the new birth can never be explained by psychology or psychiatry. The professional can only stand off respectfully and say, “Behold the works of the Lord.” He can never explain it! And in that great and terrible day to come, many will be shocked when they find that they depended upon a mental assent to Christianity instead of upon the miracle of the new birth![1]


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

February 21, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist who preached to more than 200 million people in 185 countries and became the confidant of world leaders including every U.S. president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, has died. He was 99.

A senior U.S. Treasury official said he wants to see a multiyear effort to narrow the federal budget deficit, as he warned the nation’s mounting debt is “troubling.”

Turkey signaled it’s ready for communication with Syria as Russia sought to avert a direct military clash between the two countries over a Kurdish-held enclave.

Bump stocks are worth a lot more thanks to an announcement from U.S. President Donald Trump. One listing, with a $399.99 price tag, added “get them while you can guys.” The retail price for a comparable device is less than $200. Other auction prices ranged from just over retail to as much as a $1,000.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. plans to build a headquarters in midtown Manhattan that would combine other offices into a new, taller building for 15,000 employees on Park Avenue.

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday sold $179 billion of securities as it works to rebuild its cash balance, with yields at its auctions of three- and six-month debt rising to levels unseen since 2008.

Taco Bell is now bigger than Burger King. The Mexican-themed chain eclipsed its burger rival in U.S. sales last year, becoming the fourth-largest domestic restaurant brand, according to a preliminary report by research firm Technomic. McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Subway Restaurants held on to the top three spots.

AP Top Stories

Five members of Iranian security forces were killed in Tehran on Monday night in clashes with protesters from a religious order, 300 of whom were arrested.

Exactly five months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, New Yorkers took to the streets to rally for more aid to be sent to the devastated island.

Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace has had space modules in orbit for more than a decade, but now billionaire founder Robert Bigelow is starting a new push to operate commercial space stations.

Iran issued a fiery warning to Israel on Monday threatening to raze Tel Aviv if Benjamin Netanyahu followed through on his recent threat to act against it.

Israeli company Delek Drilling has announced it will supply Egypt with $15bn worth of natural gas in the biggest export deal to date for Israel’s natural gas industry. Egyptian company Dolphinus will buy 64 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Delek Drilling and its US partner Noble during a 10-year period.

Move over Europe. In a sign of the times, the latest ranking to measure the most powerful passports in the world has placed two Asian countries — Singapore and South Korea — at the top of the leaderboard.

A state of emergency imposed in Ethiopia a day after the prime minister resigned will last for six months, the defense minister said on Saturday, as authorities sought to tamp down unrest in Africa’s second most populous nation.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is not an autocrat and is taking seriously a report by the U.S. intelligence community that names the firebrand leader among the threats to democracy in Southeast Asia, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

The bombardment, believed to be a prelude to a large-scale assault aimed at routing the rebels from east Ghouta, left at least 194 people dead and hundreds more wounded over 48 hours, activists said. The uptick in violence comes as the government of President Bashar Assad presses its advantage and tries to reassert control over all of Syria.

Government forces bombed the northeastern suburbs of the Syrian capital for a second straight day on Tuesday, killing more than 100 people and raising the specter of a full-scale offensive that could spell catastrophe for the nearly 400,000 residents trapped under siege.

Parliament in the Maldives on Tuesday approved a 30-day extension of a state of emergency sought by President Abdulla Yameen who cited an ongoing national security threat and constitutional crisis.

Venezuela formally launched its new oil-backed cryptocurrency in an unconventional bid to haul itself out of a deepening economic crisis. The leftist Caracas government puts 38.4 million units of the world’s first state-backed digital currency, the Petro, on private pre-sale in the early hours.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is reaffirming that NATO remains the United States’ most important alliance. That is despite a perception that the Trump Administration is skeptical of the alliance.

BBC

A coach travelling along the Pan-American Highway in Peru has plunged off the road, killing at least 35 people, local police said. Last month, 52 people died when another coach fell down a cliff in Peru.

A Tanzanian man has been arrested in Kenya before attempting to board a flight to Dubai with $1m worth of gold. The 46-year-old man was carrying 32kg of the precious metal when he was stopped by officers.

WND

Police, schools and parents are stopping school attacks across America by taking the threats seriously, reporting them and quickly arresting the students before there’s ever a massacre.

The United States Marine Corps is no longer requiring infantry officer candidates to pass the grueling Combat Endurance Test to qualify for the position, a move Marine officials say is reflective of modern needs but critics say is proof that standards are being watered down so more women can meet the criteria for difficult jobs.


The Briefing — Wednesday, February 21, 2018

1) A contest of worldviews as Russia seeks to exploit key weaknesses in American society

New York Times (Amanda Taub and Max Fisher) –
Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-Made Discord

New York Times (Georgia Wells and Robert McMillian) –
Facebook Battles New Criticism After U.S. Indictment Against Russians

2) What Russia has to gain from the decline of America’s democratic institutions

Wall Street Journal (Gerald F. Seib) –
Russia’s Real Goal: Continue Democracy’s Decline

3) Those out of line with ideological uniformity are no longer welcome in Silicon Valley

Wall Street Journal (Douglas MacMillan) –
Like Peter Thiel, Tech Workers Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’

4) How our worldview shows up on our dinner table

New York Times (Michael Pollan) –
How We Got From Twinkies to Tofu

5) When it comes to food in a fallen world, ‘natural’ may be too much of a good thing


News – 2/21/2018

New York Times (Julie Creswell) –
Is It ‘Natural’? Consumers, and Lawyers, Want to Know

February 19, 2018

WES VERNON — In case you haven’t noticed, there is a media war in America today. Not the usual race for ratings. This is serious business, where the survival of our country hangs in the balance. You may have noticed that for the first time our in our nation’s history, there is a serious effort to overthrow a duly elected President of the United States by inflaming political tensions. The main battlefield for this “soft coup” attempt is the media…. (more)


February 19, 2018
Alan Keyes exhorts ‘people who seek life as citizens in the Kingdom of God’
ALAN KEYES — Though there are notable exceptions, my life experience suggests that people with a lot of power and money have trouble trusting their fate to anything else. Of course, this is what Christ’s encounter with the wealthy ruler in Luke 18:18-23 (compare with a similar account in Mark 10:17-31) leads us to expect. The ruler comes to Christ asking: “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal Life?”… (more)

February 19, 2018

JERRY NEWCOMBE — U. S. Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky is beginning to sound like a lone voice in the wilderness. He’s decrying the recent budget deal that will add significantly to the national debt. Our politicians are spending money and racking up debts like there’s no tomorrow…. (more)


February 19, 2018
BRYAN FISCHER — I know a man who was living in a neighborhood when a salesman came door to door selling home security systems. He told the salesman he already had one.”What’s your security system?” he asked. The man replied, “God and a loaded gun.”… (more)

February 19, 2018
SELWYN DUKE — We don’t know the student’s name, but we do know that he hit a nerve – – in fact, he hit a whole bunch of them. Identified only as a boy of Asian descent at C.K. McClatchy High School in California, the teen’s recent science-fair project, “Race and IQ,” propounded the thesis that differences in groups’ average intelligence influence their academic performance…. (more)

February 18, 2018

CHUCK NORRIS — Forgive my forwardness, but I know what could radically reduce gun violence on U.S. school campuses without adding more gun regulations, placing more restrictions on the mentally ill, outlawing guns or even involving Washington, D.C. And I bet it could be enacted sooner than any other proposed remedy…. (more)


February 18, 2018

BYRON YORK — There’s been no shortage of breathless reaction to Trump-Russia special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for their efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. “An attack that – – but for the loss of life – – is as bad as Pearl Harbor,” tweeted veteran journalist Jonathan Alter…. (more)


February 17, 2018

BOB UNRUH — A grand jury indictment released Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller accuses 13 Russian nationals and three companies of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indictment says the nationals, posing as Americans, contacted members of the Trump campaign. But authorities said there was no allegation any American was a knowing participant…. (more)


February 17, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump said Friday that the indictments against 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 presidential election show that his campaign didn’t collude with Moscow, and that he beat Hillary Clinton fair and square. “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”… (more)

February 17, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Christopher Steele dossier allegation that an “extensive conspiracy” existed between the Donald Trump campaign and the Kremlin wasn’t borne out in the special counsel’s first charges of Russian election interference. Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought a grand jury indictment against 13 Russians for interfering in the election via social media posts, false American identities and fake political groups. The indictment and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said no Americans knowingly took part…. (more)

February 17, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The Bolshevik Revolution turned 100 last October. As Friday’s indictment of Russia’s Internet Research Agency reminds us, it’s been 100 years of tyrannical and murderous Russian regimes working to subvert democracy wherever they can and distort American public opinion by any means they can devise…. (more)

February 17, 2018

LOS ANGELES TIMES — With an ode to his adopted home state of Utah and swipes at Washington and President Trump, Mitt Romney launched a political comeback Friday by announcing his bid for U.S. Senate. Revealing his intentions in a 2/12 minute video, filled with uplifting images of family and the state’s rugged beauty, Romney signaled his intention to run a localized campaign rooted in an old political standby: criticism of the Beltway and its noxious political culture…. (more)


February 17, 2018

CBS NEWS / YOUTUBE — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, is officially running for Senate in Utah. The head of Utah’s Republican Party has criticized Romney for not having enough ties to the state. He moved there after losing the 2012 election. Matt Canham, senior managing editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, breaks down the latest with CBSN…. (more)


February 17, 2018

SUNSENTINEL — Stoneman Douglas High School girls basketball player Maddy Wilford – – who was shot several times and ‘fighting for her life’ in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s Parkland shooting – – is now in stable condition and received a visit from President Trump and the First Lady late Friday night…. (more)


February 17, 2018

NEW YORK POST — The FBI was warned last month that Nikolas Cruz was an armed psycho who might shoot up a school – – but it didn’t bother investigating, the agency admitted Friday… (more)


February 16, 2018

NEW YORK POST — Before Nikolas Cruz carried out his mass killing at a Florida high school this week, police responded to his home 39 times over a seven-year period, according to disturbing new documents…. (more)


February 16, 2018
FOX NEWS — Ted Cruz wants CNN to know he’s no coward. The Texas senator on Friday blasted the liberal news network for sitting on an interview he gave it even as “New Day” host Chris Cuomo was accusing him of being “afraid” to appear on the network…. (more)

February 16, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Congressional Republicans failed to repeal or replace Obamacare. But one state has come up with a way to get around it. Idaho is dealing with Obamacare by just blowing it off. If it works, other states seem likely to follow… (more)

February 16, 2018
WESLEY PRUDEN — When Kim Jong-un dispatched his crack propaganda team to Pyeongchang (and not P.F. Chang, the Chinese restaurant chain, as reported by NBC News) to cover the Winter Olympics, he couldn’t have imagined that the American media in town would have been so easy to con…. (more)

February 16, 2018

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Mitt Romney on Friday was set to announce his campaign for Utah’s Senate seat that will almost certainly succeed, and will only be burdened by attributes that candidates normally kill for – – universal name recognition and the captivated attention of the national press corps…. (more)


February 15, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Mitt Romney’s ascension to Congress’s upper chamber may be a safe bet, but that doesn’t mean he’ll have an easy road. Just as the news broke indicating Romney will announce his candidacy for Orrin Hatch’s, R-Utah, Senate seat on Thursday, Utah’s Republican Party chairman slammed the former presidential candidate. “I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here,” Rob Anderson said in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, further accusing Romney of “using name recognition to win a seat.”… (more)

February 15, 2018
BYRON YORK — Observers are buzzing about a series of events in the last 60 days in the case of Michael Flynn, the Trump national security adviser who on Dec. 1 pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI in the Trump-Russia investigation. The new developments might add up to very little or they might be significant. In any event, they are raising eyebrows…. (more)

February 15, 2018
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Back in early December, Trump fans started throwing stuff at me for suggesting that we await more information about FBI agent Peter Strzok before demanding that he be drawn and quartered. Yes, it was clear that Strzok engaged in serious misconduct: The married G-man’s reported extramarital affair with his married FBI colleague Lisa Page was scandalous not only for the obvious reasons but as potential blackmail material against counterintelligence agents…. (more)

February 15, 2018
BOB UNRUH — Bruce Ohr, the demoted Department of Justice official who provided information to the FBI for the anti-Trump “dossier,” did not disclose to the bureau that the opposition-research firm that produced the dossier was paying his wife, according to newly obtained government documents…. (more)

February 15, 2018

NEWSMAX — Former CIA Director John Brennan is in a “world of trouble” over statements he has made concerning British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier linking President Donald Trump to Russia, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino said Monday…. (more)

Billy Graham, ‘America’s Pastor’ And Noted Evangelist, Dead At 99
Billy Graham, the famed evangelist who became known as “America’s Pastor,” has died at the age of 99, The Associated Press reported. Graham died at his home Wednesday morning from natural causes, a family spokesman told ABC News.

The Power to Upgrade Our Own Biology Is in Sight—But Is Society Ready for Human Enhancement?
In recent decades, we have developed a wide array of powerful methods, such as genetic engineering and brain-machine interfaces, that are redefining our humanity. In the short run, such enhancement technologies have medical applications and may be used to treat many diseases and disabilities. Additionally, in the coming decades, they could allow us to boost our physical abilities or even digitize human consciousness.

Nikki Haley dresses down Mahmoud Abbas
Apparently still under the impression Obama was in charge, a Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently demanded that U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley “needs to shut up and realize the Palestinian leadership is not the problem.” Oh, but it is, she made clear. Her statement Tuesday followed a demand from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for a peace conference later this year. He then left, before Haley spoke. “I will not shut up rather I will respectfully speak some hard truths,” Haley said. Her comments, she said, were addressed to Abbas even though he had fled. “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk,” she told Abbas. “But we will not chase after you.

Feds face new demands to probe Hillary Clinton
Two new lawsuits have been filed demanding answers from the “deep state bureaucracy” to questions about what went on under the Obama administration. The lawsuits, one against the FBI and the Department of Justice, and another against the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of State, the FBI and the Treasury Department, were filed by the public interest American Center for Law and Justice.

In Unexpected Twist, Judge In Flynn Case Asks Mueller For “Exculpatory Evidence”
The federal judge assigned to the criminal case against Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller to turn over any “exculpatory evidence” to Flynn’s defense team. Oddly, however, Flynn’s legal team did not make this request. Instead, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the order “sua sponte,” or at his discretion, invoking the “Brady Rule”

Trump team briefs Security Council on Mideast peace plan
US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace team briefed members of the UN Security Council on their plan to jumpstart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday. Two sources…told The Jerusalem Post that Jared Kushner…, Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, and Nikki Haley, US envoy to the UN, fielded questions from diplomats for roughly an hour after a public session of the council concluded.

Conflicting interests: Iran confronts Turkey in Syria’s Afrin region
On Monday night, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Sources fed local rosy statements to media about “cooperation in the fight against terrorist elements” and Rouhani said the two leaders discussed “plots to disintegrate regional states.” But behind the scenes Iran is quietly opposing Turkey’s operation in the mostly Kurdish Afrin region in northwest Syria.

Pro-Brexit Tory MPs set out demands in letter to Theresa May
More than 60 Brexit-supporting Tory MPs have written to Theresa May to insist the UK make a clean break with the EU. The MPs say the UK must not be stopped from negotiating trade deals with other countries, once it leaves the EU, and must gain full “regulatory autonomy”. The letter was sent by the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers, headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Venezuela launches oil cryptocurrency
Venezuela has launched a cryptocurrency in an attempt to bypass tough economic sanctions imposed by the US government. The “Petro” is intended to bolster the country’s crumbling economy, which has been suffering from hyperinflation and devaluation for years. Venezuela claims it is the world’s first sovereign cryptocurrency.

Syria war: Eastern Ghouta bombing ‘catastrophic’
A doctor working in the Syrian rebel enclave of the Eastern Ghouta says the situation is “catastrophic” – and he believes the international community has abandoned the people living there. “We don’t have anything – no food, no medicine, no shelter,” Dr Bassam told the BBC. “We don’t have bread. We don’t have anything.” “Maybe every minute we have 10 or 20 air strikes,” Dr Bassam said.

Palestinian leader Abbas calls for international role in seeking peace
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas made a rare appearance before the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday and called for an international peace conference by mid-year — something especially needed, he said, since the U.S. can no longer be counted on as the lone mediator. It is “essential,” Abbas said, that a “multilateral international mechanism” be established to broker peace.

Report: Iran already entrenched in Syria, ready to confront Israel
A New York Times investigative report published Monday revealed the scope and depth of Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Iran, through its presence in Syria, was “redrawing the strategic map of the region,” as per the paper. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned this week that Iran was “trying to take over Syria” and “moving its army into Israel’s backyard.”

Japan to buy at least 20 more F-35A stealth fighters – sources
Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) in the United States rather than assemble locally, three sources said. “In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan.

Abbas Calls For ‘Multilateral’ Effort to Establish Palestinian State
Mahmoud Abbas called for a multilateral initiative from the international community to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state, during an address to the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Tuesday. “To solve the Palestine question, it is essential to establish a multilateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference and in line with international law and the relevant resolutions,” Abbas claimed. Effectively, Abbas was calling for the international community to replace the United States as the primary mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Christians and Jews Kick Off Joint Bible Study at The Knesset
Nearly 200 Jews and Christians gathered at the Knesset on Tuesday for the event, which was co-sponsored by the Knesset Caucus for the Encouragement of Bible Study and Israel365. Knesset Members Yehudah Glick (Likud), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Sharren Haskel (Likud) attended.

Y’stone quake swarm isn’t a deadly warning
Recent rumblings of the Earth near West Yellowstone, Montana, are likely the extension of an “earthquake swarm” that has been taking seismometers for a ride since June. That’s the take of seasonal Moose resident and University of Utah geophysicist Bob Smith, who hypothesizes that the seismic activity is decades-later aftershocks of the deadly, damaging 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake.

Paratroopers prepared and ready for next war
After arduous ‘War Week’ including hours of live-fire exercises in built-up and open areas, paratroopers to receive prestigious Red Beret. Impressive endurance.

Syria’s Ghouta residents ‘wait to die’ as bombs fall
Residents of Syria’s eastern Ghouta said they were “waiting their turn to die” early on Wednesday, after more pro-government rockets and barrel bombs fell on the besieged rebel enclave. Five died and over 200 were injured early on Wednesday in the area, hammered by one of the heaviest bombardments in seven years of war that has killed at least 250 people in 48 hours, a war monitor said.

U.S. ‘finalizing’ peace plan despite Abbas vow for international efforts
“You don’t have to like that decision,” she said, of Trump’s Jerusalem move. “You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: That decision will not change.” Haley said that Abbas faced two paths: one of anger toward the Americans and incitement of Palestinians to violence against Israelis, or one of direct negotiations with both. Of the first, she warned: “I assure you that path will get the Palestinian people exactly nowhere toward the achievement of their aspirations.”

Justice Thomas RIPS Supreme Court For Ignoring Second Amendment: ‘The Right To Keep And Bear Arms Is … This Court’s Constitutional Orphan’
On Tuesday, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a blistering rebuke to his Supreme Court colleagues, as well as to lower courts that have refused to treat the Second Amendment with the same level of honor as other rights enshrined in the Constitution.

42 Million Babies Born to Unmarried Mothers Over Last 30 Years
The percentage of babies born to unmarried mothers dipped below 40 percent for the first time in 9 years in 2016, dropping to 39.8 percent, according to the final birth-data report for that year published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data from license-plate readers goes where?
It’s not something that gets a lot of attention, but there are ALPRs all over the place.The automated license plate readers are technology systems that capture plate numbers and add them to a database, along with the time and the location. The information is used to track down fugitives and much more. And it’s that “much more” that has privacy advocates alarmed.

Nikki Haley dresses down Mahmoud Abbas
The Palestinians have not been pleased with the Trump administration’s new tone at the United Nations. Where the Obama administration often acquiesced to the Palestinians demands, the new attitude is that America’s greatest Middle East ally, Israel, deserves some respect. And will get it.

Stunning list: Cops stop dozens of school attacks before they happen
‘Only by the grace of God … did we avert a horrific outcome’

Muh Russia: Barack Obama Spent Three Times As Much Interfering in Israeli Election Than Russians Spent on Facebook Ads
The 13 indicted Russian internet trolls have NOTHING on Barack Obama. On Friday the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals, along with 3 Russian entities for ID fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud from 2014 through the 2016 elections.

BOMBSHELL REPORT: Twitter Employees Admit To Censoring Conservatives, Banning Them For Political Reasons
“If it was a pro-Trump thing and I’m anti-Trump… I banned his whole account.”

American Center for Law and Justice Files Lawsuits Against ‘Deep State’ Over Clinton Investigation and Uranium One
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed lawsuits against the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the US Treasury over the sham Hillary Clinton investigation and the Uranium One scandal.

DHS to Publish Proof of Massive Dem Voter Fraud in 2016 – QAnon
Reported: several million illegals voted, while legitimate ballots were thrown away

HRW suspends official with Tinder profile suggesting Auschwitz hair room is funny
Human Rights Watch said it is investigating one of its officials after a complaint from a pro-Israeli group, which said the man’s Tinder dating service account had a crude joke about the Holocaust.

BOMBSHELL DEAL: $15 Billion in Israeli Natural Gas to be Sold to Egypt
Delek Drilling, along with Texas-based Noble Energy, has signed a deal worth potentially $15 billion to sell natural gas from its Leviathan and Tamar fields to Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings Ltd.

The 3 Step Process to Sovietize the United States
There are three stages that are being employed to take-down our country and plunge it into the modern-day version of the Soviet Union. 1. Stifle all conservative speech. This is what we are witnessing all across America in places like our universities, Youtube, Google, Twitter and Facebook. The attempt to ban Bannon is the present poster-child of this movement.

Proposal to Outlaw Circumcision Stokes Debate, Religious Freedom Concerns
Male circumcision has long been a controversial topic, and a proposal by lawmakers in Iceland to criminalize the practice – apparently for the first time anywhere in modern history – is making waves far from the small North Atlantic island nation.

California Weighs Permanent Restrictions for Water Wasters
That sign in hotel rooms asking guests if they really need their towels and sheets washed each day would become the rule in California, enforced with a $500 fine, if water officials vote to make a series of smaller-scale conservation measures permanent in the drought-prone state.

Parents Lose Custody of Daughter for Opposing Transgender Medical Treatments
Parents of a 17-year-old girl lost custody of their daughter for opposing her wish for transgender medical treatments.

White Helmets Ready for ‘False-Flag’ Chemical Attack in Syria
….The White Helmets group, which claims to be an impartial humanitarian NGO saving lives in Syria, has reportedly distributed masks in Eastern Ghouta to protect civilians from a chemical gas attack. The group, also known as Syrian Civil Defense, has allegedly been creating a new plot to blame another chemical attack on the Syrian government, al-Manar reported.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 21, 2018

Billy Graham Has Gone Home

“My home is in Heaven,” said the Rev. Graham with regularity. “I’m just traveling through this world.”

The Foundation

“Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man’s nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God.” —John Adams (1765)

Debt Cancer: More Than 80 Percent Of American Adults Owe Somebody Else Money

How long can our debt levels keep growing much, much faster than the overall economy?  We haven’t had a year of 3 percent growth for the U.S. economy since the middle of the Bush administration, but we keep borrowing money as if there is no tomorrow.  Much of the focus has been on the exploding debt of the federal government, and that is definitely something I plan to address once I get to Washington.  But on an individual level, U.S. consumers have been extremely irresponsible as well.  In fact, one new survey has found that more than 80 percent of all American adults are currently in debt(Read More…)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: February 21

  • Investors Await Fed Minutes for Clues on Rate Rises (Read More)
  • Democrats Counter GOP Tax-Cut Pitch by Warning of Long-Term Pain (Read More)
  • Trump Jr: ‘Nonsense’ That Family Is Profiting From Presidency (Read More)
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Headlines – 2/21/2018

Abbas Calls for ‘Immediate Negotiations’ in the Recognition of a Palestinian State

Abbas: Recognition of Palestine will advance negotiations

At UN, Abbas urges multilateral peace effort, lays out plan for talks

US says other nations could be part of future Mideast peace talks

Palestinian leader calls for peace conference by mid-2018

Full text of Abbas’s address to the UN Security Council

Abbas to UN Security Council: Israel has thwarted all attempts for negotiations

Israel to Abbas: ‘You’re not part of the solution – you’re the problem’

Lieberman: Abbas asks for UN recognition while other hand pays terrorists

Netanyahu: Abbas continues to run away from peace

Yesha envoy: Time to change ‘peace’ narrative in Washington

Trump’s Middle East peace team briefed the UN Security Council on their plan

Haley to Abbas: US wants a peace deal but will not ‘chase after you’

‘I will not shut up,’ Haley tells Palestinian negotiator

UN envoy sees Mideast peace window closing soon

PA chief claims Palestinians are direct descendants of Canaanites, says Palestine made contributions to humanity before Balfour Declaration

Trump negotiators welcome Abbas’ recognition of Jerusalem as holy to Jews

Qatari official: Neither Israel nor Hamas want an escalation

Settler leader: Trump presidency to thank for settlement surge

West Bank settlers grew twice the rate of Israel’s overall population last year

Scholars: Polish PM distorts history by saying Jews participated in Holocaust

Polish minister says backs idea to create ‘Polocaust’ museum

Swedish racist ‘laser man’ faces sentence for murdering Holocaust survivor

Danish petition appears likely to force vote on banning circumcision

Gabbay: Netanyahu’s house of cards is collapsing upon him

Netanyahu: It’s crazy, a new case every 2 hours

New bribery scandal centers on fraud case against Sara Netanyahu

Egyptian minister sets conditions for approval of Israeli gas import deal

Iran expert: Trump must keep threat to nix nuke deal to get E.U. help

‘We will level Tel Aviv to the ground’ senior Iranian official warns Israel

To prevent a war, Israel must create an Assad-Iran rift

Syria war: Eastern Ghouta bombing ‘beyond imagination’

‘It’s not a war. It’s a massacre’: scores killed in Syrian enclave

Syria’s Child Death Toll Prompts Scathing 1-Sentence Statement From UN Agency

Dozens Killed In Damascus Suburb, Marking The Area’s Highest Death Toll In Years

Syria rebel leader says new ‘Holocaust’ underway

The Russian guns for hire dying in Syria

Russia admits dozens of Russian casualties in Syria battle

Erdogan says Turkey will lay siege to Syria’s Afrin in coming days

Kurdish fighters say pro-Assad militias have arrived to thwart Turkish offensive in Syria’s Afrin

Defeats in Middle East driving Islamic State fighters to Philippines

Russia, Pakistan Form Anti-Terror Military Cooperation Commission

Chicago’s Hijab Billboard Campaign Seeks To Educate

“Ignore the missiles”: Duterte says China’s South China Sea militarization is no problem

State report: Hawaii not prepared for missile attack threat

North Korea canceled secret meeting with Pence at Olympics, US says

Cursed: U.S. Olympic Athletes Who Dissed Trump Go Down In Flames

Mueller ups pressure on Trump campaign aides with new charge

Venezuela Launches Virtual Currency, Hoping to Resuscitate Economy

Dow closes 254 points lower as Walmart posts worst day since January 1988

Case Against Google. Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins. Should the government step in?

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Taltal, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

Swarm of 200 Earthquakes Hits Yellowstone – Here’s What That Means

Photos: Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupts, spews towering ash cloud

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 26,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 21,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 11,000ft

“Storm bomb” hits Reykjavik tomorrow morning: Dangerous winds on highway to Keflavik

Gita leaves damage behind after pummeling New Zealand with damaging winds, flooding

Christchurch homes largely escape flooding in the wake of ex-Cyclone Gita video

Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights

Fearing Tourist Drought, Cape Town Charts a New Relationship with Water

Temperature in Denver plummets 72 degrees in 40 hours, officials say

Pacemakers, defibrillators are potentially hackable

WHO: Measles Rates Soared in Europe in 2017

Japanese ‘baby factory’ dad wins custody of 13 Thai surrogate children

42 Million Babies Born to Unmarried Mothers Over Last 30 Years

Religious parents lose custody of transgender teen for refusing hormone treatment

School Survey Asks Sixth Graders About Visiting Gay Bars

Police: Student shoots himself in middle school bathroom in Ohio

Donald Trump orders ban on Las Vegas-style bump stock gun modifications

Justice Clarence Thomas issues a scathing dissent after Supreme Court declines 2nd Amendment case

Billy Graham Dead at 99

Blast from the past – Benny Hinn said Grahams death will start revival

Jim Bakker – Get Ready For the Apocalypse

Jesus Died so You Could Be a Successful Entrepreneur. Learn How For Only $49 Says Shawn Bolz

Hillsong’s Bobbie Houston declares ‘Apostolic Anointing’ on husband Brian Houston

Video – Michael Brown at Brownsville – Fire! Ignite Ignite Ignite!

Non-denominational agnostic Hollywood exorcist says – I’ve cast demons out of Oscar winners, politicians and movie bosses

Lesbian Couple Sues Trump Admin after Catholic Agency Says They Can’t Foster Refugee Kids

Mike Ratliff – The Tower of Babel error

The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass

Would Jesus Magnify His Presence Above His Word?

You Can Call Things Into Existence Like God Does Says Joyce Meyer

Nadia Bolz-Weber Says She’d Melt Down Purity Rings and Build Vagina Statue for Feminist, Gloria Steinem

Thousands call for Christian prison chaplain ‘ousted’ by  Muslim Overseer to get his job back

Nut ball Reporter Calls For More Abortion to Lower Crime

Jesus Wore an Armani Suit — Kris Vallotton’s New Book Supporting His Theology of Greed

Hillsong Sponsoring Contemplative Alpha – Allows Catholic Mass at Conference

The Apostle of Numerology Chuck Pierce

Heidi Baker Brings Her Demons to Brownsville

Actress: ‘People Were Testifying About God’s Miracles’ on the Set of Black Panther

Church of England reverend snorts coke, smokes crack, watches porn and says ‘I want a hooker’

Christian parents lose custody of daughter after refusing to support her ‘transition’ to male

Charlotte mother gets 7 days in jail after baptizing daughter

Russia Dagestan shooting: Five women killed in attack on churchgoers

13 Indian Christians Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison for Alleged ‘Forced Conversions’

Parents Lose Custody of Daughter for Opposing Transgender Medical Treatments

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 06:33 PM PST

Parents Lose Custody of Daughter for Opposing Transgender Medical TreatmentsParents of a 17-year-old girl lost custody of their daughter for opposing her wish for transgender medical treatments. Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon of Hamilton County, Ohio has allowed the girl to be taken into the custody of her grandparents – who support her medical transition – allowing them to make decisions that will further along her physical transition to the opposite sex. According to CNN, Hendon ordered that the family’s names not be released.

The parents reportedly continued to call their daughter by her given name, rather than a male name, and refused to consent to hormone treatments that were recommended by her medical team. The girl claimed she became suicidal as a result of her parents’ refusal to accept that she wanted to transition to a male. “We think the grandparents are the ones who have an open mind and will … make this sort of decision best for the child,” said attorney Paul Hunt, who represents the court-appointed guardian ad litem. “The parents have clearly indicated that they’re not open to it.” READ MORE

Hezbollah Could Fire 500,000 Rockets at Israel

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 06:29 PM PST

Hezbollah Could Fire 500,000 Rockets at IsraelA pro-Hezbollah website boasted that in a year, the Iran-backed terror group could have 500,000 missiles, which, according to an expert, would give Hezbollah the ability to “saturate Israel with rockets,” making the next war “nasty,” the Washington Free Beacon reported. An article at the Dahiya website, a Lebanese pro-Hezbollah site, claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently rejected an Israeli demand, relayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to remove the 70,000 Iranian long-range missiles Hezbollah has deployed throughout Syria that are aimed at the Jewish state.

Assad, according to the article, has ordered his army to build and camouflage missile silos to allow Hezbollah to build its rocket arsenal in Syria, aiming to reach 500,000. This would be added to another 150,000 missiles the terror group already has in Lebanon. The article further claimed that Syria and Hezbollah will wage a “joint missile campaign” against Israel, and that Iranian experts are ready to launch missiles at Israel from every part of Lebanon and Syria. READ MORE

DAYS OF NOAH: Scientists Create Sheep-Human Hybrids

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 06:23 PM PST

DAYS OF NOAH: Scientists Create Sheep-Human HybridsResearchers have achieved a new kind of chimeric first, producing sheep-human hybrid embryos that could one day represent the future of organ donation – by using body parts grown inside unnatural, engineered animals.  With that end goal in mind, scientists have created the first interspecies sheep-human chimera, introducing human stem cells into sheep embryos, resulting in a hybrid creature that’s more than 99 percent sheep – but also a tiny, little bit like you and me.

Admittedly, the human portion of the embryos created in the experiment – before they were destroyed after 28 days – is exceedingly small, but the fact it exists at all is what generates considerable controversy in this field of research. “The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It’s nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” stem cell biologist Hiro Nakauchi from Stanford University told media at a presentation of the research this week in Austin, Texas, explaining that, by cell count, only about one in 10,000 cells (or less) in the sheep embryos are human. READ MORE

Atheist Activist Group Demands That Courthouse Scripture Mural Be Removed

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 05:51 AM PST

Atheist Activist Group Demands That Courthouse Scripture Mural Be RemovedOne of the nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist activist organizations has sent a letter to the clerk of the Findlay, Ohio municipal court to claim that a displayed mural referencing Psalm 91 violates the U.S. Constitution. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says that it was contacted by a “concerned citizen,” who advised that a large mural in the courthouse features artwork of an eagle and the phrase, “Under His wings shall you find refuge—Psalms 91.”

“The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages,” wrote FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert. “It is inappropriate for the county to display this religious message on the wall of the Findlay Municipal Court because it conveys government support for religion,” she asserted. “A reasonable observer would view the text as an endorsement of religion by Findlay. The mural calls for viewers to seek refuge in the Christian God.” READ MORE

Trump Dares ‘Very Insecure’ Oprah to Run for President, Says Will Expose, Defeat Her

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 05:40 AM PST

Trump Dares ‘Very Insecure’ Oprah to Run for President, Says Will Expose, Defeat HerPresident Donald Trump bashed billionaire media mogul Oprah Winfrey late Sunday night as “very insecure” and dared her to run for president so he could expose and defeat her “just like all of the others.”  In a Twitter tirade, Trump lashed out at Winfrey accusing her of “biased and slanted” journalism in an interview she did for CBS’s “60 Minutes” in which she hosted a group of 14 voters about his presidency.

“Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” Trump tweeted. Winfrey who had previously interviewed the group of politically divided voters questioned whether the pro-Trump members of the group still supported him in light of allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior and other concerns, such as Trump’s alleged “sh**hole countries” comments. READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: Lebanon threatens all out war with Israel ‘at any cost’ in shock warning

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 05:33 AM PST

RUMORS OF WAR: Lebanon threatens all out war with Israel ‘at any cost’ in shock warningA blunt threat was issued to Israel by the head of the Lebanese army when he vowed to do whatever it takes fight aggression from Tel Aviv at a conference on increasing stability in the Middle East. General Joseph Aoun’s furious remarks were made in a speech at the “Support for Stability and Development in the Arab States and the Middle East” regional conference. Lebanon and Israel have seen relations strain

in recent years over Tel Aviv’s plans to build a border wall and Beirut’s decision to explore for offshore energy near disputed waters. General Aoun said: “I reiterate today our categorical rejection of the Israeli enemy’s sovereignty of Lebanon and its sacred right to invest all its economic resources. “And the army will not spare any method available to confront any Israeli aggression, whatever that costs.” READ MORE

Pastor robs Sunday School teacher at church!

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 05:28 AM PST

Pastor robs Sunday School teacher at church!A downtown Toledo pastor and his family are accused of robbing a Sunday school teacher at the church over the weekend. St. Paul’s AME Zion Church Pastor Anthony Morris, 49, along with his wife, Zelda Morris, 46, and 19-year-old daughter Kamali Morris, are each charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony. Nickema Turner, 39, of Maumee was teaching Sunday school at the church, 954 Belmont Ave., when the younger woman grabbed her by the hair,

according to a Toledo police report. Mrs. Morris then began punching Ms. Turner, police said. The pastor also pushed Ms. Turner to the ground, according to the police report. During the assault, Mrs. Morris is accused of dumping items from Ms. Turner’s purse and taking them. Ms. Turner attempted to recover her belongings when Mr. Morris allegedly pulled out a gun and pointed it at her, police said. The woman told police the pastor threatened to kill her. READ MORE

Wild and abnormal weather coming to the United States

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 05:22 AM PST

Wild and abnormal weather coming to the United States

Wild, weird weather is coming to the U.S. this week with snow and record cold in the West, record warmth in the East, and a threat of heavy flooding rain in the central part of the USA. Widespread snow will persist through late Tuesday across parts of the western mountains and into the High Plains as a strong cold front slides through the Rockies and into the central U.S., the National Weather Service said. Accumulations will be heavy at times, especially for the central Rockies, where more than 18 inches of snow is possible.

The weather service issued winter storm warnings for much of the higher elevations of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, and for parts of the Plains from western South Dakota to northwestern Nebraska, the Weather Channel said. Dangerous winter weather conditions, including blowing snow and high winds, are expected in these areas. READ MORE

Worried scientists at Yellowstone log quake swarm of over 200 rumbles within days

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:54 PM PST

Worried scientists at Yellowstone log quake swarm of over 200 rumbles within daysA shock Yellowstone earthquake discovery was made after scientists announced they had detected more than 200 rumbles in a “quake swarm” that occurred in the northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana. The shock discovery was announced by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that declared the quakes have been occurring “over the past several days”.

In a post, it wrote: “Over the past several days, an earthquake swarm has been ongoing at Yellowstone. “Keep in mind that swarms like this account for more than 50 percent of the seismic activity at Yellowstone and no volcanic activity has occurred from any past such events. “As of the night of February 18, over 200 earthquakes have been located in an area ~13 km (8 miles) North East of West Yellowstone, Montana. READ MORE

Apple iPhone Update Removes Easter from Calendar

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:47 PM PST

Apple iPhone Update Removes Easter from CalendarApple’s recent update for the iPhone has removed Easter Sunday from some users’ calendars, prompting consumer complaints.  While the previous update displayed both Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day on April 1, Easter Sunday was removed for some users on their iCal calendars following the latest update. “Easter Sunday shows up on calendars for iPhone users running versions 11.2.2 of Apple’s iOS operating

system, but not some users of 11.2.5, which is the latest version of the OS. However, one user said Easter showed in their calendar,” reported Fox News. “The default setting on iOS devices is for U.S. holidays, which shows holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. However, there is an option to add Alternate Calendars, including Chinese, Hebrew and Islamic. But Christian is absent from this list on iOS 11.2.5.” READ MORE

Israel and Egypt sign ‘historic’ $15 billion gas deal to strengthen ties

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:39 PM PST

Israel and Egypt sign ‘historic’ $15 billion gas deal to strengthen tiesIsrael and Egypt have entered into an ‘historic’ $15 billion deal for natural gas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday.”This will bring billions of dollars to state coffers,” he said announcing the most significant deal with Egypt since it became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.  The deal comes in the wake of an escalating territorial dispute between Lebanon and Israel over energy reserves off their coasts.

Israeli energy group Delek Drilling LP said that it had signed agreements with its associate Noble Energy of the United States to supply 2.26 trillion cubic feet (64 billion cubic meters) of gas from Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar offshore fields to the Egyptian firm Dolphinus over a 10-year period.Meanwhile, the Egyptian response was more muted with the Ministry of Petroleum Spokesman Hamdi Abdulaziz saying it has “no comment on any negotiations or agreements concerning the private sector companies on the import or sale of natural gas,” though they are subject to industry regulations. READ MORE

Franklin Graham Blasts ‘The View’s’ Anti-Christian Rhetoric

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:18 PM PST

Franklin Graham Blasts ‘The View’s’ Anti-Christian RhetoricEvangelist Franklin Graham says that he is offended by “The View” host Joy Behar’s remarks last week about Christianity and mental illness, and says believers need to be alarmed by her anti-Christian statements.  Graham responded to Behar’s dialogue on the ABC show about Omarosa Manigault, a former White House staffer who questioned Pence’s “hearing” from Jesus and suggested that people should be worried about the vice president’s state of mind.

“Every Christian who is listening right now—whether you are a Catholic, whether you are a Protestant, Baptist, evangelical, Pentecostal, whatever you may be—this should scare the socks off of you,” Graham told radio show host Todd Starnes recently. “For Joy Behar to say that all Christians are mentally ill is like suggesting we need to lock them up. They (Behar and others) need to be taken out of society because these people are a danger.” Behar maligned Pence because he listens to the voice of God. READ MORE

 

FAA Tapes Deepen ‘UFO Incident’ Mystery That Sent F-15s Scrambling…

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 06:12 PM PST

FAA Tapes Deepen ‘UFO Incident’ Mystery That Sent F-15s Scrambling…Last November, The War Zone posted an exclusive story detailing a bizarre incident involving an unidentified aircraft that transited the skies of the Pacific Northwest in the early evening of October 25th, 2017. What started as a radar target moving at very high speed over Northern California turned into a series of eyewitness accounts made by nearby airline pilots traveling northward over Oregon. Even F-15 fighters were launched to intercept the mysterious intruder that quickly became invisible to radar.

Now, through the Freedom of Information Act, we present what could be one of the most insightful instances of official documentation surrounding such an encounter that had already been confirmed to have occurred by both the FAA and the USAF. These materials include fascinating audio recordings of radio transmissions and phone calls made as the incident was unfolding, as well as pilot interviews, and conversations between FAA officials made in the aftermath of the highly peculiar incident. READ MORE


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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Hillsong’s Bobbie Houston declares ‘Apostolic Anointing’ on husband Brian Houston.

Further reinforcing the reality of the New Apostolic Reformation cult and their anointed ‘apostles’, Pulpit & Pen, in their latest article, provide proof of the cult’s ‘apostolic agenda’ with Bobbie Houston’s latest ‘apostolic’ declaration on her Instagram feed.


Pulpit & Pen’s News Division writes:

Bobbie Houston is the wife of Brian Houston, and calls herself the “co-senior pastor of Hillsong church.” Hillsong is the Australia-based global phenomenon that has been growing throughout the world through its Arian Snare pop-music, Word-Faith theology, and celebrity endorsements. With satellite churches in New York, Los Angeles, and the Americas, Hillsong is the point of the spear of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a charismatic movement that is seeking to unite the charismatic world – Protestant and Catholic – under its two main doctrinal distinctives, continuationism and the prosperity gospel. Along with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, Bethel Church…

View original post 512 more words

Tolerance Is the Noblest Virtue

Romans 12:18

Code: B180221

Lying is not only sinful, it’s also self-perpetuating. Deception always begets more deception because the only way to sustain a falsehood is with more and more lies.

That’s certainly the case with the popular lies we’ve been considering in this series. The postmodern lie that truth is relative is often defended and reinforced by another lie that we’ll consider today—that tolerance is the noblest virtue. If truth is so fluid and fluctuating, the highest virtue for the postmodern man is to be able to accommodate and accept whatever “truth” he encounters, in whatever form it takes.

And as John MacArthur points out, tolerance is a “virtue” that seems to be usurping and dispensing with all others.

In this postmodern era, one virtue is esteemed above all others: tolerance. As a matter of fact, tolerance may soon be the only virtue secular society will embrace. Many traditional virtues (including humility, self-control, and chastity) have already fallen out of public favor and in some quarters are openly scorned or even regarded as transgressions.

Instead, with the beatification of tolerance, what was once forbidden is now encouraged. What was once universally deemed immoral is now celebrated. Marital infidelity and divorce have been normalized. Profanity is commonplace. Abortion, homosexuality, and moral perversions of all kinds are championed by large advocacy groups and tacitly encouraged by the popular media. The modern notion of “tolerance” is systematically turning morality on its head. [1]

Tolerance has become the new litmus test of common decency in secular society. Your job security, popularity, and public standing all hang in the balance. Anything less than a full-fledged endorsement and validation of every worldview, lifestyle, and personal preference is enough to label you as intolerant and cast you out to the fringes of society. In a world where wrongheaded notions of “tolerance” define morality, intolerance is fast becoming the new leprosy.

It’s important to note in the above quote that John referred to the “modern notion of tolerance” (emphasis added). That’s because tolerance has been redefined in the postmodern era as unreserved approval. Yet this modern understanding represents a stark deviation from how tolerance has been historically understood.

The Oxford Dictionary defines tolerance as “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.” In other words, all true tolerance requires disagreement. Contrast that with the modern ideal of tolerance that won’t allow for disagreement or contrasting opinions. In that sense, tolerance is really just enforced unanimity. Far from the enlightened virtue it’s portrayed as, postmodern tolerance is nothing more than ideological fascism.

When Faithfulness Demands Disagreement

Scripture has very little to say on the subject of tolerance. Perhaps the closest we get to any biblical counsel is Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” God doesn’t want His people to be known as lovers of strife and contention. Our desire should be to live peaceably in this fallen world, which sometimes requires a willingness to tolerate things we find disagreeable.

Yet we should not ignore the first two words of Romans 12:18: “if possible.” God’s Word clearly concedes that there is a threshold when tolerance is no longer an option. There is a biblical tipping point when it is no longer possible to “go along to get along.”

In those instances when believers are forced to break with societal norms and separate from the world’s worldviews, it’s never a question of personal preferences, but of upholding God’s holiness and protecting the purity of His church. Righteousness is not negotiable. And as the world’s perspectives and preferences continue to veer further and further away from biblical morality, God’s people must be prepared to be declared intolerant for their adherence to His righteous standard.

Scripture gives us several examples of people who broke with society to remain faithful to God’s law.

The Bible is clear that we are called to comply with the civil laws we live under (Romans 13:1–7)—even during the reign of wicked rulers. But when those laws come into conflict with God’s commandments, a line in the sand is drawn. We see a clear example of that in Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol—even under threat of being cast into a furnace:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. (Daniel 3:17–18)

Holding to God’s righteous standard was more important than protecting their lives. They understood the wickedness of idolatry and faithfully submitted to God’s command to worship Him exclusively (Exodus 20:3-6; cf. Matthew 4:10), regardless of what it cost them.

We see a similar example in Acts 4. The Jewish rulers tried to intimidate the disciples and curtail their teaching “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). But Peter and John openly defied those restrictions: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).

On another occasion, God actually turned away His wrath and made a covenant of peace because of one man’s faithfulness to uphold His righteous standard. When Phinehas the priest executed some unrepentant idolaters, God honored him for his intolerance of pagan cultural influences:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God.’” (Numbers 25:10–13)

It’s also worth noting that when Christ wrote to the seven churches in Revelation 2–3, He publicly rebuked two of them for their tolerance of sin. The believers in Pergamum were warned to stop tolerating heresy (Revelation 2:14–15). The Lord similarly warned the church in Thyatira about their tolerance for a false teacher (Revelation 2:20). In both cases, the churches had invited worldliness and corruption into their midst through their tolerance of false teaching.

Conversely, the Lord expressed His divine pleasure to the church in Ephesus because they were intolerant of heretics (Revelation 2:2) and their heresies (Revelation 2:6). The Ephesian Christians correctly understood that righteousness before God was vastly more important than their standing in the community. They were willing to be seen as intolerant for the sake of the purity of the gospel and their church.

Righteousness Is the Greatest Virtue

Scripture tells us that God loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Psalm 45:7). God calls us to live by His righteous standards (1 Peter 1:13–16) and blesses those who do so (Psalm 5:12). Righteousness is what distinguishes true Christians from imposters and pretenders (1 John 3:4–10). Believers are commanded to “pursue righteousness” (2 Timothy 2:22), “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6), and ultimately rest in the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

A true love of righteousness cannot produce indifference to wickedness. As John MacArthur argues, we cannot tolerate and accommodate what God hates.

Where are the men and women today with the courage to stand alone? The church in our age has abandoned the confrontive stance. Instead of overturning worldly wisdom with revealed truth, many Christians today are obsessed with finding areas of agreement. The goal has become integration rather than confrontation. As the church absorbs the values of secular culture, it is losing its ability to differentiate between good and evil. What will happen to the church if everyone proceeds down the slippery path of public opinion?

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Martin Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, and stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not just be divisive—but that the truth would triumph. When he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy. Especially in times like Luther’s—and like ours—when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. There is no room for compromise. [2]

When we embrace righteousness as the greatest virtue, we will know when tolerance is appropriate and when separation is necessary. This sinful world will continue to place its demands upon us, but the Christian walk is a call to conformity to an infinitely higher standard. God’s Word will always be the measure of true virtue.

 


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The Powerful Bible Verse Billy Graham Posted in BIG Letters All Over His Home Perfectly Exemplified His Life and Ministry

 “Still today, my father Billy Graham has a Bible verse pinned up on the wall in his bedroom, printed in VERY large letters,” Franklin Graham wrote of Galatians 6:14. “In fact, it’s in the dining room, his bathroom, and several other spots around the house! ”

Graham, who added that it’s a “great verse for us to live by,” said that his father was preparing a sermon based on the text before his 95th birthday, and added that it was “his passion to memorize it, to saturate his heart and mind with it. He made it his life verse.”

Read more about Billy Graham’s phenomenal life here.

Source: The Powerful Bible Verse Billy Graham Posted in BIG Letters All Over His Home Perfectly Exemplified His Life and Ministry

Billy Graham’s Timeless 1986 Message to Anyone Who’s Not Sure They’re Going to Heaven

Billy Graham’s death has ushered in a viral response across the globe, as people remember the powerful and life-changing messages that the famed Christian evangelist shared over his seven-decade career.

READ: 10 Celebs Whose Lives Were Completely Transformed by Billy Graham

At the core of Graham’s preaching was the gospel — the belief that accepting Jesus is essential to transforming the human heart and ensuring one’s eternal place in heaven.

One particular sermon that Graham delivered back in 1986 in Tallahassee, Florida, has re-emerged over the years, and with good reason, as it describes what it truly means to accept Christ. And that timeless message is worth revisiting.

“Decisions are made whether we make them or not. Time decides if you will not and time always decides against you. There’s a lonely arena in the depths of your heart where the greatest battle of life must be fought alone,” Graham proclaimed. “That’s your decision about Christ. Your parents can’t make it for you, the church can’t make it for you, your friends can’t make it for you, your girlfriend, your boyfriend can’t make it for you. You must make it yourself.”

And the evangelist wasn’t done there. He implored his audience to remember that their acceptance or rejection of Christ would decide where they’d end up in 100 years.

“If you’re not sure that you’re ready to meet God, if you’re not sure that you’re going to heaven … that your sins are forgiven, you come and make sure tonight,” he said.

Watch Graham’s powerful and timeless message below:

Billy Graham, America’s Pastor – Dead at age 99

(Seth Dunn – Pulpit & Pen News) One of the world’s most well-known evangelists, Billy Graham died today at the age of 99.  He was so prominent and well known as an evangelist and servant of Christ Jesus that it seems superfluous to try to describe his notoriety by listing his accomplishments or citing facts about his life.  Perhaps the best way to illustrate who Billy Graham is and just what his life has been about is an oft-told joke:

Billy Graham was returning to Charlotte after a speaking engagement. When his plane arrived there was a limousine there to transport him to his home in Montreat. As he prepared to get into the limo, he stopped and spoke to the driver.

“You know” he said, “I am 87 years old, and I have never driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?”

The driver said, “No problem. Have at it.”

So Rev. Graham gets into the driver’s seat and they head off down the highway. A short distance away sat a rookie State Trooper operating his first speed trap. The long black limo speeds past him doing 70 in a 55 mph zone. The trooper turns on his siren and sets off after the limo. After pulling it over, he walks to the driver’s door to begin the procedure. However, when the tinted glass is rolled down, he is shocked to see who is a the wheel. The young trooper immediately excuses himself and returns to his patrol car to radio his supervisor.

“I know we are supposed to enforce the law,” he tells his supervisor, “but I also know that important people are sometimes given certain courtesies. I need to know what I should do because I have stopped a very important person.”

“Is it the governor?” the supervisor asks.

“No, he’s more important than that,” The trooper says.

“Oh, so it’s the president?” the supervisor says.

“No, he’s even more important than that.”

The supervisor finally asks, “Well, then, who is it?”

“I think it’s Jesus,” the trooper says, “because he’s got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!”[1]

Insert the name of another widely recognized preacher like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren or Joseph Prince, and the joke might lose some of its effectiveness. Some people might not even get it.

The punch line of the joke makes sense and draws a laugh because of what people know about Billy Graham; he’s not a preacher, he’s the preacher.  During his career, Graham has influenced millions of people throughout America and the wider world.  He is the most distinguished preacher America has ever seen.  That’s why, if one wants to send him a letter, he need only address it to, “Billy Graham, America.”[2]  With Graham’s death there is a vacuum in American evangelicalism that will likely be filled with some combination of politically-minded ecumenism, numbers-focused decisionism, and sound biblical evangelism.

EARLY LIFE: BORN AND BORN AGAIN IN NORTH CAROLINA

Billy Graham was born to a Presbyterian family on November 7, 1918, in a rural area adjacent to Charlotte, North Carolina. Ironically the most famed Southern Baptist preacher in the denomination’s history and the most influential evangelist of the 20th century was infant-“baptized” into a Presbyterian church as a child.  While his denominational choice and evangelical zeal might seem surprising, given his origins, his virtuous lifestyle does not.  In his autobiography, “Just as I Am,” Billy Graham presents himself the benefactor of a salt of the earth upbringing. His parents lived very conservative lives, taught him the importance of hard work, and stressed dependence on God.  Perhaps the most memorable lesson taught to Graham by his parents was the most unorthodox.  When Graham was 15, his father, a prohibition-era teetotaler, brought home a substantial amount of beer and forced Billy and his sister, Catherine, to drink all of it.  The beer made the teenage Graham so sick that he developed a lifelong distaste for drinking alcohol. Unlike his grandfather, William Crook Graham, Billy Graham would not grow up to be a “hard drinking”[3] alcoholic.  He would instead become America’s most famous preacher.

Graham’s first public-speaking experience was not in a church pulpit but a school program in which the 12-year old portrayed Uncle Sam.  The school’s principal, Mrs. Boylston, recognized his oratory gift, but Graham did not enjoy the experience and promised himself he would never become a public speaker.  At that time, Graham had not yet made the decision to become a Christian (although he was active in a church).  Four years later, at a revival meeting led by a Baptist evangelist named Mordecai Ham, Graham made that decision — the same decision many thousands of attendees of his own revivals have made over the years.  From that time on, Graham’s interest and dedication to his faith grew.

Still, even as he became more interested in and dedicated to his faith, Graham did not yet feel called to preach.  In fact, when called on to speak about his faith publicaly for the first time, his nervously-presented testimony fell on the seemingly deaf ears of a group of North Carolina prison inmates.  Graham was convinced that he’d never become a preacher.  However, his conviction did not stop him from noting in his senior class yearbook that his “goal was to become a minister of the gospel.”[4]  After completing high school, Graham took a step toward a career in ministry by choosing to attend Bob Jones College, a notable Christian institution of higher education.

Principal Boylston would not be the only educator who recognized Billy Graham’s gift for public speaking.  Bob Jones Sr., the namesake, and founder of Bob Jones College told Graham, “You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily.”[5]  Graham, however, was considering leaving the school because of its strict code of behavior and stifling theological environment.  In reference to that consideration, Jones was less supportive. “At best,” he told the academically embattled student, “all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.” Graham did leave Bob Jones University, but he did not give up on a theological education.  He transferred to Florida Bible Institute, where he would receive a Diploma in Biblical studies.  He would go on to receive a B.A. in Anthropology from Wheaton College.  With his academic credentials in the study of God’s word and the study of God’s sixth-day creation (humans), Graham began a career in the ministry. View article →

Source: Billy Graham, America’s Pastor – Dead at age 99

Leave it to Behar: A Liberal ‘View’ of Christianity

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

Vice President Mike Pence says God speaks to him, but some call it mental illness. Oprah says God will speak to her if He wants her to run for president, and liberals cheer. Is this glaring double standard the new normal?

It’s not just Joy Behar. Christianity is generally not tolerated in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. And they’re not shy about it.

But in a recent interview with Ann Silvio on 60 Minutes Overtime, billionaire entrepreneur, Oprah Winfrey said she hasn’t heard God’s call to run for president, “Because if God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kinda tell me?”

And on The View recently, a clip was played of disgruntled White House staffer Omarosa Manigault trashing Mike Pence as an “extreme Christian” who has conversations with Jesus. The View panel then proceeded to mock the VP’s faith.

Behar ignorantly cackled,

“It’s one thing to talk to…

View original post 892 more words

February 21, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Reason for Evangelistic Prayer

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time. And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (2:3–7)

This powerful and dramatic passage answers the question “Why pray for the lost?” It is one of the most definitive statements in all of Scripture of the saving purpose of God. It contains several reasons for evangelistic prayer.

evangelistic prayer is morally right

This points back to the commandment to pray for the lost in verses 1–2. Kalon (good) refers to what is intrinsically, morally good. God defines prayer for the lost as the noble and spiritually proper thing to do, and our consciences agree. The lost suffer the agony of sin, shame, and meaninglessness in this life, and the eternal hell of unrelenting agony in the life to come. Knowing that, it is the most excellent task to pray for their salvation.

Some might argue that Jesus said in John 17:9, “I do not ask on behalf of the world.” But there Christ was praying as Great High Priest for God’s elect. Because He is sovereign, omniscient Deity, His prayer was specific in a way ours cannot be. It was a prayer exclusively for the salvation of those whom He loved and chose before the foundation of the world to be partakers of every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3–4). “The world” was specifically excluded from the saving design of this prayer.

Our prayers, however, are not the prayers of a high priest; we pray as ambassadors of Christ, whose task it is to beseech men and women on His behalf to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). We are therefore commanded to offer our entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings … on behalf of all men. Our earnest desire ought to be for the salvation of all sinners (cf. Rom. 9:3; 10:1). We are not to try to limit evangelism to the elect only.

There are two reasons for this. First, God’s decree of election is secret. We do not know who the elect are and have no way of knowing until they respond to the gospel. Second, the scope of God’s evangelistic purposes is broader than election. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Even Jesus’ high priestly prayer does embrace the world in this important regard. Our Lord prayed for unity among the elect so that the truth of the gospel would be made clear to the world: “that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.… that the world may know that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21, 23). God’s call to all sinners is a bona fide and sincere invitation to salvation: “ ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ ” (Ezek. 33:11).

evangelistic prayer is consistent with god’s desire

Obviously, in some inscrutable sense, God’s desire for the world’s salvation is different from His eternal saving purpose. We can understand this to some degree from a human perspective; after all, our purposes frequently differ from our desires. We may desire, for example, to spend a day at leisure, yet a higher purpose compels us to go to work instead. Similarly, God’s saving purposes transcend His desires. (There is a crucial difference, of course: We might be compelled by circumstances beyond our control to choose what we do not desire. But God’s choices are determined by nothing other than His own sovereign, eternal purpose).

God genuinely desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Yet in “the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11), He chose only the elect “out of the world” (John 17:6), and passed over the rest, leaving them to the damning consequences of their sin (cf. Rom. 1:18–32). The culpability for their damnation rests entirely on them because of their sin and rejection of God. God is not to blame for their unbelief.

Since God desires all men to be saved, we are not required to ascertain that a person is elect before praying for that person’s salvation. God alone knows who all the elect are (2 Tim. 2:19). We may pray on behalf of all men with full assurance that such prayers are good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. After all, “the Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:8–9).

Apodektos (acceptable), is from apodechomai, which means “to receive gladly,” “to accept with satisfaction,” or “to heartily welcome.” The Lord eagerly accepts prayer for the lost because it is consistent with His desire for their salvation.

Such prayer is also consistent with His nature as Savior. The phrase God our Savior appears five other times in the Pastoral Epistles (1:1; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4), as well as in Jude 25. God is not only creator, sustainer, king, and judge, but also savior. His saving character is manifested through His Son, Jesus Christ (2:5–6; 2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6). God is the “Savior of all men” in a temporal sense, but “especially of believers” in an eternal sense (1 Tim. 4:10b).

That truth of God’s saving nature is also taught in the Old Testament (cf. 2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 106:21; Isa. 43:3, 11). The idea that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful, wrathful ogre mollified by the gentle, loving, New Testament Christ is not at all accurate.

When God desires all men to be saved, He is being consistent with who He is. In Isaiah 45:22 God said, “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 55:1 invites “every one who thirsts” to “come to the waters” of salvation. Again, in Ezekiel 18:23, 32 God states very clearly that He does not desire that the wicked should perish, but that they would sincerely repent (cf. Ezek. 33:11). In the New Testament, Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

No true biblical theology can teach that God takes pleasure in the damnation of the wicked. Yet though it does not please Him, God will receive glory even in the damnation of unbelievers (cf. Rom. 9:22–23). How His electing grace and predestined purpose can stand beside His love for the world and desire that the gospel be preached to all people, still holding them responsible for their own rejection and condemnation, is a mystery of the divine mind. The Scriptures teach God’s love for the world, His displeasure in judging sinners, His desire for all to hear the gospel and be saved. They also teach that every sinner is incapable yet responsible to believe and will be damned if he does not. Crowning the Scripture’s teaching on this matter is the great truth that God has elected who will believe and saved them before the world began. What mystery!

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33–36)

To come to the knowledge of the truth is to be saved. Epignōsis (knowledge) is used three other times in the Pastoral Epistles (2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1). In all four occurrences, it refers to the true knowledge that brings about salvation. Far from desiring their damnation, God desires the lost to come to a saving knowledge of the truth.

Some have argued that this passage teaches universalism. If God desires the salvation of all men, they argue, then all will be saved, or God won’t get what He wants. Others argue that what God wills comes to pass, because all men means all classes of men, not every individual. Neither of those positions is necessary, however. We must distinguish between God’s will of decree (His eternal purpose), and His will expressed as desire. Desire is not from boulomai, which would be more likely to express God’s will of decree, but from thelō, which can refer to God’s will of desire. This is precisely the distinction theologians often make between God’s secret will and His revealed will.

God desires many things that He does not decree. It was never God’s desire that sin exist, yet the undeniable existence of sin proves that even sin fulfills His eternal purposes (Isa. 46:10)—though in no sense is He the author of sin (James 1:13).

Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse wrote, “We have found that God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass” (The Free Offer of the Gospel [Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presb. & Ref., 1979], 26). God desires all men to be saved. It is their willful rejection of Him that sends them to hell. The biblical truths of election and predestination do not cancel man’s moral responsibility.

evangelistic prayer reflects the uniqueness of god

One of the most fundamental teachings of Scripture is that there is one God (cf. Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5–6, 21–22; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6). That runs counter to the pluralistic religiosity of our world, which rejects the concept of any exclusive religious truth. We are taught by the spirit of our age that the gods of the Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, and Hindus are to be charitably considered equally valid. If that were true, there would be many ways of salvation, and hence no need for evangelism. But since there is only one true God, then He is the One in whom all must believe to be saved. There is no other name under heaven by which sinners may be saved (Acts 4:12). Evangelistic prayer recognizes that all must come to the one true God.

evangelistic prayer is consistent with the person of christ

Not only is there only one God, but one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.Mesitēs (mediator) refers to one who intervenes between two individuals to restore peace, or ratify a covenant. The concept of a mediator is seen in Job’s lament, “There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33). Because Christ is the only mediator, all must come to God through Him (Acts 4:12). There isn’t an endless series of aeons, or subgods, as the Gnostics taught. We do not approach God through the intercession of angels, saints, or Mary. Only through the man Christ Jesus can men draw near to God. The absence of the article before anthrōpos (man) suggests the translation, “Christ Jesus, Himself man.” As the perfect God-man, he brings God and man together. Hebrews 8:6 calls Him “the mediator of a better covenant,” while Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24 describe Him as the mediator of the new covenant. All men who come to God must come through Him.

evangelistic prayer reflects the fullness of christ’s atonement

Our Lord freely gave His life when He died for our sins. In John 10:17–18 He said,

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

He voluntarily went to the cross and gave all of Himself, not merely something He possessed.

Ransom is a rich theological term, describing Christ’s substitutionary death for us. It is not the simple word for ransom, lutron, but antilutron, the added preposition intensifying the meaning. Christ did not merely pay a ransom to free us; He became the victim in our place. He died our death, and bore our sin. He gave Himself.

The phrase gave Himself as a ransom for all is a comment on the sufficiency of the atonement, not its design. To apply a well-known epigram, the ransom paid by Christ to God for the satisfaction of His justice is sufficient for all, but efficacious for the elect only. Christ’s atonement is therefore unlimited as to its sufficiency, but limited as to its application.

Real benefits accrue for all because of Christ’s all-sufficient atoning work. The gospel may be preached indiscriminately to all (Mark 16:15); the water of life and the offer of divine mercy are extended freely to all (Rev. 22:17); Christ is set forth as Savior for all to embrace (1 Tim. 4:10; 1 John 4:14). Moreover, in a temporal sense, the entire race was spared from immediate destruction and judgment when Adam sinned (a privilege not afforded to the angels who fell—Heb. 2:16), and individual sinners experience delay in God’s judgment on their sins. Nineteenth-century theologian William G. T. Shedd wrote,

The atonement is sufficient in value to expiate the sin of all men indiscriminately; and this fact should be stated because it is a fact. There are no claims of justice not yet satisfied; there is no sin of man for which an infinite atonement has not been provided.… Therefore the call to ‘come’ is universal.” (Dogmatic Theology [reprint; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980], 2:482)

That does not mean that all will be saved. Again, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Christ’s death was sufficient to cover the sins of all people, but it is applied to the elect alone. The price paid was infinite. If billions more had been added to the number of the elect, Christ would not have been required to suffer one more stroke of divine wrath to pay the price for their sin. On the other hand, “had there been but one sinner, Seth, elected of God, this whole divine sacrifice would have been needed to expiate His guilt” (R. L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism [reprint; Harrisonburg, Va.: Sprinkle, 1992], 61).

So the infinite price our Savior paid was certainly sufficient for all. “Christ’s expiation … is a divine act. It is indivisible, inexhaustible, sufficient in itself to cover the guilt of all the sins that will ever be committed on earth” (Dabney, 61). Therefore salvation can sincerely and legitimately be offered to all, though only the elect will respond. Shedd writes, “The extent to which a medicine is offered is not limited by the number of persons favorably disposed to buy it and use it. Its adaptation to disease is the sole consideration in selling it, and consequently it is offered to everybody” (Dogmatic Theology, 2:482).

It is crucial to understand that the atoning work of Christ fully accomplishes everything God declared He would accomplish in eternity past with regard to the salvation of sinners. God’s sovereign purposes are not thwarted in any degree by the unbelief of those who spurn Christ. “I am God,” He states, “and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ ” (Isa. 46:9–10). The atonement of Christ does not represent a failed attempt to save anyone who will not be saved. All those whom God purposed to save from eternity past will be saved (cf. John 17:12).

Yet it is worth reiterating once more that while God’s saving purpose is limited to the elect, His desire for the salvation of sinners is as broad as the human race. He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And so Christ gave Himself as a ransom sufficient for all. How graphically the atoning work of Christ reveals to us the heart of God for the salvation of sinners!

That is why Paul refers to the atonement as the testimony borne by Christ at the proper time. This thought precisely parallels Galatians 4:4–5, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” Christ gave Himself as a ransom at exactly the proper time in God’s redemptive plan. His redemptive work is the most eloquent testimony ever borne to God’s saving desire for all sinners. Evangelistic prayer for all men therefore reflects the heart of God, and honors Christ’s work on the cross.

evangelistic prayer is in accord with paul’s divine commission

And for this, Paul writes in verse 7, I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. This refers to the great truths that God is our Savior, Christ is our mediator, and Christ gave Himself as a ransom, as discussed in the preceding verses. Paul’s divine commission was based on those truths. Preacher derives from the verb kērussō, which means to herald, proclaim, or speak publicly. The ancient world had no news media, so announcements were made in the city square. Paul was a public herald proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. An apostle was a messenger, sent on behalf of Christ. If the gospel message was exclusive, that would undercut Paul’s calling.

Paul reinforces the truthfulness of his calling as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth with the parenthetical statement in verse 7. He affirms I am telling the truth, I am not lying. In case some doubted his teaching in this passage, he insists that he is speaking the truth.

We, too, are called to proclaim the gospel to the lost world. That call, like Paul’s divine commission, is based on God’s desire that all be saved. Evangelistic prayer acknowledges our responsibility.[1]


5 Paul now elaborates even further his command in vv. 1–2, this time by specifying the nature of the gospel that must be proclaimed. The following affirmation may draw on a Christian confession (“the testimony given in its proper time,” v. 6). The existence of “one God” was affirmed by monotheistic Judaism (Dt 6:4), with important implications also for Gentiles (cf. Ac 17:23–31; Ro 3:30; 1 Co 8:6). Unfortunately, first-century Jews frequently defined their salvation-historical privilege in narrow, nationalistic terms. This ethnic presumption is firmly opposed by both Jesus and the early church, including Peter (1 Pe 2), Paul (letter to the Romans), and John (e.g., Jn 10:16; 11:51–52; 12:32). Since there are other monotheistic religions besides Christianity, the apostle proceeds to stress that there is only “one mediator” between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, “who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (see comments at v. 6).

Just as there is only one God, there is also only “one mediator” (mesitēs, GK 3542) between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus (cf. Jn 14:6b). In Hebrews, Jesus is presented as the mediator of a new covenant, replacing the old covenant mediated by Moses (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; cf. Gal 3:19–20). No other intermediaries will do, be they angels (Col 2:18; Heb 2:2), Moses (Gal 3:19; Heb 3:1–6), Jewish high priests (Heb 8:6, 9, 13.; 9:13; 12:24), or other religious figures. Here the “mediator” concept is developed in terms of the “ransom” (v. 6; antilytron, GK 519; see apolytrōsis in Ro 3:24; 8:23; 1 Co 1:30; Col 1:14) offered through Jesus’ death (cf. Tit 2:14: lytroō, GK 3390, “redeem”). This presupposes universal human sinfulness (cf. Ro 1–3). The reference to Jesus’ humanity emphasizes both his identification with the human race and his status as the man par excellence, the one who alone was in a position to provide redemption from sin (cf. Paul’s Adam/Christ theology in Ro 5:12–21; 1 Co 15:21–22, 45–49).[2]


2:5–6a / Paul will now offer as evidence for the contention that “God wants all people to be saved” some commonly held theological affirmations, probably from an early creedal formulation—although some of the present language may well be his own. The statement has three parts to it: the unity of God, Christ as mediator, and Christ’s death as securing redemption. It should be noted that all three parts support Paul’s insistence on the universal scope of salvation.

There is one God. This statement reflects the primary Jewish affirmation about God (see Deut. 6:4; cf. 1 Cor. 8:4). Its original intent in the ot was to stress God’s unity vis-à-vis the polytheism that surrounded Israel. Unfortunately, however, it often came to be used in an exclusivistic way: “He is our God and he looks out for his own.” But basic to the original intent, and what Paul is stressing here, was that the fact of one God not only meant that there were no other gods but that he is therefore the one God over all peoples.

And there is one mediator between God and men (lit., “One also is the mediator between God and mankind”). The presupposition of this line in relation to the first is the universal sinfulness of humanity, who needs outside help in order to be rightly related to the one God whom it has spurned. The point being made is not only that humankind needs mediation with God (the presupposition) but that God himself has provided it. The word “mediator” had sometimes been applied to Moses in Judaism (e.g., Philo, Moses 2.166), as the one who “mediated” the Law to God’s people, a notion Paul seems to allude to negatively in Galatians 3:19–20. Here, or in the creed itself before Paul used it, the background lies in the idea of a “negotiator” who “establishes a relation which would not otherwise exist” (TDNT, vol. 4, p. 601). Jesus Christ is the “go-between God,” who reconciles fallen humanity to the one God, that is who mediates between God and men.

The phrase the man Christ Jesus emphasizes both his full identification with all men and his being the one human being of whom it can be said, he is the Man (anthrōpos, the generic term, not anēr, expressing male gender). This seems to reflect Paul’s use of the Adam-Christ imagery, wherein Christ becomes the representative “man” for people of the New Age, as Adam was of the Old.

Who gave himself as a ransom for allpeople: This clause, of course, makes explicit what was only implicit in the first two clauses, revealing Paul’s reason for citing the whole. God’s desire for all to be saved is evidenced in the creed itself with its statement that Christ’s death was for allpeople. The gospel, therefore, potentially provides salvation for all people, because Christ’s atoning self-sacrifice was “in behalf of” (hyper) all people. Effectually, of course, it ends up being “especially [for] those who believe” (4:10).

The clause is very close in concept, but not so in its actual language, to Mark 10:45 and probably reflects a Hellenized form of that saying. To give himself up for us is a typically Pauline way of referring to Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross (Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:2). As a ransom translates a noun, antilytron, that can mean either a “ransom” (involving “payment”) or “redemption” (in the Exodus sense of delivery from bondage). In both Mark 10:45 and here, the latter is to be preferred (as well as in Titus 2:14).

As often happens, therefore, when describing the work of Christ (cf. Rom. 3:24–25; 1 Cor. 1:29; 6:11), a rich combination of metaphors is used, and this creedal statement is no exception. But the point throughout is its potentiality for allpeople.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 67–74). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 512). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 64–66). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 21 WE HAVE IT ALL

Seek ye first the kingdom…all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

How much time have you spent in your Christian life meditating on the plain instruction from our Savior?—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The God who has revealed Himself to needy men and women wants us to know that when we have Him, we have everything—we have all the rest!

Any of us who have experienced a life and ministry of faith can tell how the Lord has met our needs—even for food and the essentials of life.

Brethren, we ought to learn, and learn it soon, that it is much better to have God first and have God Himself, even if we have only a thin dime, than to have all the riches and all the influence in this world and not have God with it!

Let us go on to know Him and to love Him more dearly, not for His gifts and benefits, but for the pure joy of His presence. Thus we will fulfill the purpose for which He created us and redeemed us!

Dear Lord, help me make the transition from wanting more and more “things” to being satisfied—and overjoyed—with only Your presence in my life.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 25:11–15

Also, for the sake of your name, O Yahweh,

forgive my sin, because it is great.

Who is the man fearing Yahweh?

He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

His soul will lodge in prosperity,

and his offspring will possess the land.

Intimate fellowship with Yahweh is for those who fear him,

and he makes known his covenant to them.

My eyes are continually toward Yahweh,

because he will take my feet from the net.

Reading: Mark 9:42–50

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it is better for him if instead a large millstone is placed around his neck and he is thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than, having two hands, to go into hell—into the unquenchable fire! And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life lame than, having two feet, to be thrown into hell! And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt becomes deprived of its salt content, by what can you make it salty? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Reflection

There is a perfect cure for all the ills that man is heir to. There is a cure that is sovereign, sufficient, sure, and speedy. Jesus Christ announced that cure long ago, but the overwhelming majority of men and women have not listened, and so our evils, miseries, and despair continue. You will find that our Lord Jesus Christ proposed the cure for all our ills in Matthew 11:28–30, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to carry and my burden is light.” Christ Jesus Himself is the cure for all our evils. He came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He does it for all who receive Him. Poverty, sickness, bereavement, failure, bitterness of heart, despair, and death—as well as sin and unbelief—are all works of the devil. We can have done with them by coming to Jesus, the Christ of God.

I propose to take up these various evils and show how Jesus, the Christ of God, is the cure for them all and how each one of us may be done with them right now.

—R. A. Torrey

The Gospel for Today

Response

What sins are present in your life right now? Ask your spouse or a trusted friend in your church community to help you recognize and address these sins. Pray that God would shed light on the darkness in your life and use you to spread light.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

February 21 Are You Mourning as Christ Commands?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

Two crucial determinants will tell you if you are mourning over sin as Jesus commands. First, you will have true sensitivity to and sorrow for your sins. Your primary concern will be how your sin detracts from God’s glory, not how its exposure might embarrass you or hurt your reputation.

The mock piety of hypocrites demonstrates no sensitivity to sin, only to their personal prestige and pride (cf. Matt. 6:1–18). Likewise, the mock gratitude of those like the Pharisees who think they are better than others (cf. Luke 18:11) certainly does not show mourning for sin. King Saul twice admitted he had sinned when he did not destroy King Agag and all the Amalekites, and even asked Samuel for pardon, but he was more concerned for his own honor than God’s (1 Sam. 15:10–35).

If your mourning is godly, you will lament the sins of other believers and the world, as well as your own. You will agree with the psalmist, “My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law” (Ps. 119:136). You will weep over your community, as Jesus did over His (Luke 19:41).

The second way to know if you are mourning rightly is to check your sense of God’s forgiveness. Have you experienced the sense of spiritual freedom and real release that comes with knowing your sins are forgiven? Can you point to true happiness, peace, and joy in your life that only God gives in response to mourning for sin (cf. Ps. 126:5–6)?

ASK YOURSELF

What is your main problem with sin—only that it gives you that sick feeling of guilt and hypocrisy? Only that it seems to expose you around those who know you best? Take all the personal inconveniences out of the equation, and be more gravely concerned that your sin offends the God you profess to serve.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 60). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 21 Aspects of Praise

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me.

Psalm 50:23

What does it mean to praise God? According to the Bible, praise involves three things:

  1. Reciting God’s attributes. One great reason to study the Old Testament is that it so powerfully reveals the character of God, enabling us to praise Him better.
  2. Reciting God’s works. The psalms are filled with lists of the great things God has done. He parted the Red Sea, brought His people out of Egypt, made water flow from a rock, fed Israel in the wilderness with manna from heaven, and did many other powerful works. When you praise God for all that He has done, your problems pale in comparison. Remembering God’s past performance glorifies Him and strengthens our faith.
  3. Giving thanks for God’s attributes and works. At the heart of praise is thanksgiving. Praising God gives Him glory. No matter what happens in our lives, we are to express our thanks to Him for all His attributes and gracious works.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 64). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 21, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ex 19:16–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


16–19 The advent of God takes place amid a most impressive display of cosmic disruptions: thunder and lightning (v. 16; cf. Ps 77:18; Heb 12:18–19; Rev 4:5; 8:5; 11:19), an exceedingly loud trumpet blast (cf. Rev 1:10; 4:1), and a thick cloud (Ex 19:9; 2 Ch 5:14). A deep moral impression is made on the people, for they are in the presence of the glorious majesty of the holy God, who is about to reveal his person and character in his law. This magnificent event will be unexcelled until the Lord Jesus returns again in blazing fire (2 Thess 1:7–12).[1]


19:16–19 / On the morning of the third day the Lord came down to meet the people. Earthquake and dense smoke accompanied the sound and light to fully engage, even overpower, all five senses. The people trembled. It began with double sight and double sound in the lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, [thunder] and a very loud trumpet blast. The Hebrew words for “thunder and lightning” are plural, indicating a continuous manifestation. When the trumpet sounded the signal, Moses led the people out of the camp to meet ʾelohim.

The people approached the boundary set at the foot of the mountain. They “took their stand” here since this was the line they could not pass. The smell and taste of smoke increased as the mountain lit up, in addition to the lightning, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace. The experience must have been overwhelming when the earthquake began. The trembling (kharad) of the mountain matched the trembling (kharad) of all the people (see Rom. 8:22–23; Pss. 18:7; 68:8). Then the trumpet began moving closer (halak, lit., “was walking,” omitted by the niv) and grew louder and louder. God was walking down the mountain toward them.

Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. Moses was standing with the people at the boundary at the foot of the mountain. He spoke to God in their hearing and the people witnessed the Lord’s response. The text does not reveal whether this first voice was articulated speech or like thunder (Pss. 18:13; 29:3–5). It simply says that the Lord intended to speak with Moses in their hearing so that they “will always put their trust in you” (v. 9).

God appeared in visible form many times in the ot (see comment on 33:11). The encounter at Mt. Sinai, however, was the only time God appeared and spoke to all the people. Previously the people had seen the sign of God’s presence in the cloud that led and protected them. Now, amazingly, the Lord was determined to appear “in the sight of all the people” (v. 11) and be heard speaking with Moses (v. 9). The people saw and heard with their own eyes from 19:16–20:18. After hearing the Ten Commandments, the people asked the Lord to stop speaking directly to them (see 20:18–19).[2]


19:18 Even though we know God is everywhere, language such as the Lord descended gives us a greater appreciation of His merciful grace. The omnipotent Creator came down to meet the Israelites. His presence evoked an overwhelming sense of awe. The smoke was an enveloping cover for God’s glory, even as the associated fire reminded the Israelites of that great glory.[3]


19:18–20 Surely this awesome sight served to emphasize the importance of the events taking place. The words about to be spoken described the covenant about to be made, i.e., God’s great revelation of His moral and spiritual nature. The reason for such extreme visual and auditory effects is given in 20:20. Compare Elijah’s experience in 1 Kin. 19:8–12. (On the voice of God, cf. v. 9; Deut. 4:10–13; 5:4.)[4]


19:18 Like the smoke of a furnace uses the word for “furnace” that also appears in 9:8, 10. Its only other use is to describe the source of the smoke compared with what came from the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 19:28). The whole mountain shook violently uses the same Hebrew verb as the statement that “all the people in the camp shuddered” (v. 16).[5]


[1] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 475–476). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Bruckner, J. K. (2012). Exodus. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 175–176). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 121). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ex 19:18–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Coover-Cox, D. G. (2017). Exodus. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 120). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

FEBRUARY 21 STOP LAMENTING AND LOOK UP

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

—John 14:21

In seeking to know God better we must keep firmly in mind that we need not try to persuade God. He is already persuaded in our favor, not by our prayers but by the generous goodness of His own heart. “It is God’s nature to give Himself to every virtuous soul,” says Meister Eckhart. “Know then that God is bound to act, to pour Himself out into thee as soon as ever He shall find thee ready.” As nature abhors a vacuum, so the Holy Spirit rushes in to fill the nature that has become empty by separating itself from the world and sin. This is not an unnatural act and need not be an unusual one, for it is in perfect accord with the nature of God. He must act as He does because He is God….

If only we would stop lamenting and look up. God is here. Christ is risen. The Spirit has been poured out from on high. All this we know as theological truth. It remains for us to turn it into joyous spiritual experience. And how is this accomplished? There is no new technique; if it is new it is false. The old, old method still works. Conscious fellowship with Christ is by faith, love and obedience. And the humblest believer need not be without these. TIC065-067

Lord, impart to me a fresh measure of faith, love and obedience, that I might know You as perfectly as possible. Amen.[1]


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

February 21 God’s Great Mercy

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

1 Peter 1:3

✧✧✧

Because of His mercy, God desires to lift sinners out of their pitiful condition.

Several years ago I spent about a week in India. Each day I saw countless starving, diseased people with no home but a few square feet of filthy street. I could not help but feel compassion and pity on those people who lived in such misery.

In a spiritual sense, though, before God saved us, we were each even more pathetic than any beggar in India. Spiritually, we “were dead in [our] trespasses and sins … and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1, 3–5). God saw our wretched condition and was moved to do something about it.

How does mercy compare with grace? Mercy has respect to man’s wretched, miserable condition; grace has respect to man’s guilt, which has caused that condition. God gives us mercy to change our condition; He gives us grace to change our position. While grace takes us from guilt to acquittal, mercy takes us from misery to glory.

Doesn’t it give you great joy to know that God not only removed your guilt but looked at you and had compassion? And He’s not through giving us mercy: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23). We can always “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His great mercy, for the forgiveness and blessings you have as His child.

For Further Study: Luke 15:11–32 contains the well–known parable of the prodigal son, a moving illustration of God’s loving compassion. What was the son’s condition when he returned? ✧ What was his father’s reaction? ✧ How does God respond to us when we turn to Him in repentance and humility?[1]


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

February 20 Daily Help

CULTIVATE a cheerful disposition; endeavor, as much as lieth in you, always to bear a smile about with you; recollect that this is as much a command of God as that one which says, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart.”

Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus.

When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad.

Cheerfulness is most becoming in Christian men.

Contentment is the crown jewel of a happy life.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 55). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 20, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

A Concern for the Lord

I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of … the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, (4–5a)

Paul begins the main body of his letter by praising Philemon. It was not Paul’s intent to flatter him. Rather, the apostle knew that legitimate praise feeds virtue and provides an antidote for sin. The virtuous character of Philemon becomes the foundation upon which Paul bases his appeal for him to forgive Onesimus.

Paul knew firsthand of Philemon’s character, having been God’s chosen tool to bring him to Christ and having worked with him. Epaphras, Philemon’s pastor at Colossae, was with Paul in Rome (v. 23). He, too, could testify about Philemon, as could Onesimus. That combined testimony to Philemon caused Paul to say to him, I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers. Paul was always able to give thanks to God when he prayed for Philemon; he knew nothing negative about him. The book of Philemon bears that out. Paul does not correct Philemon, and there is no suggestion that anything was amiss in his life. Everything Paul heard about Philemon was good. There is no threatening language that might assume Paul felt forgiving Onesimus would be difficult for Philemon, but rather a spirit that expected he would.

The first characteristic of one who forgives is a concern for the Lord. Paul had heard of the faith which Philemon had toward the Lord Jesus. As a genuine believer, Philemon was concerned about the Lord and desired to please Him. Because the Lord had forgiven him, Philemon could forgive others. Conviction from the indwelling Holy Spirit and from the Word of God would also provide the impetus for Philemon to do what was right. The present tense of echō (you have) demonstrates the continuous nature of Philemon’s concern for the Lord. His unwavering faith gave Paul confidence in his willingness to forgive.

Christians forgive because they are reconciled to Jesus Christ. Unbelievers do not have that capacity. Paul points that out in Romans 3:10–16:

As it is written, “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. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths.”

Those controlled by bitterness will find it difficult to forgive.[1]


4–5 In both pagan and Christian letters of the first centuries AD, the salutation was followed by an expression of thanksgiving and a prayer. Paul uses the fuller form of his thanksgiving. He tells when he gives thanks—“always … in my prayers”—and why he does so—“because I hear about your faith … and your love” (cf. Ro 1:8–10; 1 Th 1:2–5; Php 1:3–11; Col 1:3–8). The singular sou (“you”) in “I remember you” (and again in v. 6) supports the conclusion that the recipient of the letter is Philemon.[2]


4–5 / These verses draw attention to the individual Philemon in much the same way that Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer in Colossians focused upon the congregation (Col. 1:3–14). Paul’s gratitude for Philemon’s love for God’s people (v. 5) forms the basis of his request in verse 9; Paul affirms his fellowship with Philemon (v. 6) and, on that basis, requests Philemon to act kindly toward Onesimus (v. 17); as Philemon has cheered the hearts of all God’s people (v. 7), Paul desires that his own heart be cheered through Philemon’s love (v. 20). Here, too, remembrance becomes an occasion for thanksgiving and prayer: I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers.

Paul is grateful because of the positive things that he has heard about Philemon’s love (agapē) and faith (pistis) (the order of these two terms is reversed in niv). Normally, Paul mentions faith first and then shows that Christian love springs from and is nourished by faith in the Lord (Col. 1:4; Eph. 1:15). Literally, the sentence in Greek reads: “I hear of your love and faith which you have to the Lord Jesus and to all the saints.” From this, there is no way of knowing toward what love and faith are each directed.

In the niv, the sentence is given this translation: I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. The translators arrive at this interpretation because they realize that the Greek sentence probably employs a grammatical structure known as chiasm. The term comes from the Greek letter chi, which is written like an X. In a sentence, words or phrases are arranged in inverted parallelism. Verse 5, for example, would read:

a    love

b    faith

b′   in the Lord Jesus

a′   for all the saints

Love (a) comes first because Paul is thinking of Philemon’s love, both explicitly (vv. 7, 9) and implicitly (vv. 14, 16, 17, 20); (b) faith is the source from which love is derived; (b′) faith has as its object the Lord Jesus; (a′) love is directed to (eis) all the saints. This explanation reflects the usual Pauline way of associating faith with the Lord and directing love to God’s people.[3]


4–5. Paul told Philemon, I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers. Prayer with God was Paul’s place of utter abandon, a place where he could fully express his anxieties, concerns, struggles, hopes, and joys. Prayer provided the stable center as well as the surrounding can in every relationship and every endeavor.

Paul did not suddenly put Philemon on his prayer list because he was sending Onesimus back. For Paul it was the relationship, not simply the occasion, which determined his prayers. Writing to Philemon elicited an expression of the thanks he continually felt toward God because of this Christian brother.

Paul mentioned two sterling qualities in Philemon: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for all the saints. Philemon’s salvation rested in Jesus Christ and the cross. But his faith was continuous. Philemon demonstrated an abiding faith in Christ through his life. His trust was placed firmly in Christ.

This faith resulted in love—agape—self-sacrificing love which sought the welfare and benefit of others. Philemon’s conduct was marked by giving, kindness, and generosity. Philemon’s love was inclusive: for all the saints. In commending him for this indiscriminate love, Paul continued to lay the groundwork for Onesimus’s inclusion in Philemon’s household and in the Colossian church. Onesimus would return not as a slave, but as a saint, a person deserving of the same affection as all the other believers.[4]


4, 5. As usual the salutation is followed by the thanksgiving and the prayer. The apostle can honestly write: I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers. He continues, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have, (the latter) toward the Lord Jesus, and (the former) for all the saints. Epaphras, the spiritual leader of the Colossian church, a Colossian himself (Col. 4:12, 13), and now with Paul (Philem. 23), must have given the apostle much valuable information about conditions in that congregation. In that connection he had also made mention of Philemon’s work for the Lord and of his generosity and hospitality. The fugitive slave Onesimus in all probability supplied further details. After his conversion his attitude toward his master must have changed sufficiently to say some good things about him. And there may have been other informers. Thus the apostle had heard about Philemon’s love. Had he not opened his house for religious services? See verses 1, 2. Had he not “refreshed the saints” in other ways also? See verse 7. This love for God’s consecrated children had its root, as always, in faith directed toward the Lord Jesus.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Philemon (pp. 211–212). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Rupprecht, A. A. (2006). Philemon. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 637). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (pp. 108–109). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 402). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, pp. 212–213). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

February 20: Danger in the Sphere of Influence

Leviticus 7:1–8:36; John 7:45–52; Song of Solomon 6:1–5

Leadership is like a bright spotlight; when the heat intensifies, it’s difficult to conceal the areas where we fail. But that’s where true character is revealed.

The Pharisees didn’t fare well with the pressure of authority. We can see why Jesus had such compassion for the masses by observing the Pharisees’ behavior in John 7. After Jesus claimed to be the source of life and ratcheted up the conflict, the Pharisees became angry. Sensing that their authority was slipping, they judged Jesus before they had a chance to give Him a hearing. They intimidated Nicodemus, harshly rebuked the captains, and cursed the people: “this crowd who does not know the law is accursed!” (John 7:49).

Those who hold positions of authority have great influence—a reason why bad authority can be so detrimental: “Not many should become teachers, my brother, because you know that we will receive a greater judgment” (Jas 3:1). But influence isn’t relegated to leaders, supervisors, or pastors. Anyone who has a measure of influence over others should carefully consider how they use that trust.

When we have earthly teachers who let us down, we can turn to God, our heavenly teacher. For those who were under the heavy hand of the Pharisees, Jesus’ words must have been as refreshing and soothing as the water He spoke of: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let him drink, the one who believes in me” (John 7:37–38).

How are you using your authority to lead others to Christ? How can you seek out forgiveness from those you may have harmed?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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