Daily Archives: March 12, 2018

March 12: Cry Out Like the Psalmist

Numbers 13:1–33; John 18:25–19:16; Psalm 13:1–6

We often read the very bold psalms of the Bible without really reading them. We’re used to their cadence, their cries, and their requests. They seem appropriate in contexts where war, death, and enemies or mutinous friends were a daily reality. For that reason, these cries don’t always resound off the pages and fill our own lips, even when they should.

“How long, O Yahweh? Will you forget me forever?” says the psalmist (Psa 13:1). “Consider and answer me, O Yahweh my God” (Psa 13:3).

Often, when going through the difficulties of life, these cries should be our own. Instead, we try to lean on our own strength. We rely on the bravery and wisdom that we think rests deep inside us. We try to muster courage. We engage the fear. The psalmist acknowledges that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be: “How long must I take counsel in my soul, and sorrow in my heart all the day?” (Psa 13:2).

Instead, we should be crying out with the helplessness that is closer to our true reality. The next time you feel anxious, stop and pray. Turn over your cries to the one who can do something about them. When you do so, acknowledge that God is your God (Psa 13:3). Acknowledge His steadfast love (Psa 13:3). He will hear you and answer you. And, as the psalm states, He will deal bountifully with you (Psa 13:6).

How are you trying to resolve the problems of your life? How can you turn to God in these moments?

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.

March 12 Praying as Jesus Prayed

Jesus told us to “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen’” (Matt. 6:9–15).

✧✧✧

Jesus gave six elements that constitute true prayer.

Many people have memorized the Disciples’ Prayer so they can recite it often, but as beautiful as it is, it wasn’t given for that purpose. In fact, after Jesus gave it, no one in the New Testament recited it—not even Jesus Himself (cf. John 17)!

The disciples didn’t ask Jesus to teach them a prayer, but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). There is a significant difference. Jesus preceded His prayer by saying, “Pray, then, in this way” (Matt. 6:9), which literally means, “Pray along these lines.” His prayer was a general pattern for all prayer, and although it wasn’t recited, its principles are evident in all New Testament prayers.

Christ’s model prayer teaches us to ask God for six things: 1. that His name be honored, 2. that He bring His Kingdom to earth, 3. that He do His will, 4. that He provide our daily needs, 5. that He pardon our sins, and 6. that He protect us from temptation. Each request contributes to the ultimate goal of all prayer, which is to bring glory to God. The last three are the means by which the first three are achieved. As God provides our daily bread, pardons our sins, and protects us when we are tempted, He is exalted in His name, Kingdom, and will.

If you understand and follow Christ’s pattern for prayer, you can be assured that you are praying as He instructed and that whatever you ask in His name, He will do, so “that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Do your prayers reflect the six elements outlined in the Disciples’ Prayer? If not, work on making them a regular part of your prayers.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:1–8, where Jesus discusses some of the practices of the Jewish religious leaders. ✧ What practices and motives did He mention? ✧ How did He feel about their spiritual leadership?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 84). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 12 WISDOM FROM GOD

Things which are seen are temporal…things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

The thinking of our generation often reflects a willingness to exchange a high view of God’s eternity for a short-term concept called “here and now.” Technology is presumed to be paramount, but the answers science gives us are short-term answers.

The scientists may be able to keep us alive for a few extra years, but believing Christians know some things that Einstein did not know!

For instance, we know why we are here. We can say why we were born. We also know what we believe about the value of things eternal.

We are thankful that we have found the promise from the God of all grace that deals with the long term and the eternal. We belong to a company of the plain people who believe the truth revealed in the Bible.

Actually, the wisest person in the world is the person who knows the most about God—the person who realizes that the answer to creation and life and eternity is a theological answer not a scientific answer!

Dear Lord, I pray that You will reveal Yourself in some small way to this unbelieving generation, resulting in many people turning their hearts to You.[1]


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

March 12, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Donald Trump is headed to the heart of “the resistance” — California, a state that remains the anchor of the U.S. economy even as it has become the forefront of opposition to his presidency.

President Donald Trump signaled Monday that age increases for gun purchases are in the hands of states because some members of Congress won’t back such changes, as the White House forges ahead with a plan to give firearms training to teachers.

The U.S. will make no concessions to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in discussions leading to potential talks between the reclusive leader and President Donald Trump, and during any subsequent negotiations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.

China’s parliament voted to repeal presidential term limits, allowing President Xi Jinping to keep power indefinitely in a formal break from succession rules set up after Mao Zedong’s turbulent rule.

Hedge funds that use artificial intelligence and machine learning in their trading process posted the worst month on record in February, according to a Eurekahedge index that’s tracked the industry from 2011. The first equity correction in two years upended their strategies as once-reliable cross-asset correlations shifted.

A plane carrying 71 people from Bangladesh swerved erratically and flew dangerously low before crashing and erupting in flames as it landed Monday in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, killing at least 50 people, officials and witnesses said.

Most Americans in a new poll support stricter gun regulations, with even a majority of National Rifle Association in the survey backing stiffer background checks.

Kim Jong Un wants to sign a peace treaty after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korean media reported, reviving a long-held goal of the North Korean regime.

AP Top Stories

Florida enacted its first gun control measures in more than two decades on Friday when Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act ― in open defiance of the National Rifle Association.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has suggested that his company will be ready to fly a rocket to Mars in 2019.

Myanmar’s military is razing emptied Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine state and building bases on the rubble, raising fears that evidence of atrocities may be destroyed, according to a new report by rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Afghan security forces recaptured a district headquarters in western Farah province on Monday, just hours after the Taliban overrun the police and administrative offices, killing eight policemen, a spokesman said.

The United Arab Emirates will have a rail link with Saudi Arabia by the end of December 2021, a senior transport official said on Monday.

The UN’s political chief on Sunday condemned anti-Muslim violence that has targeted mosques and businesses in Sri Lanka as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the Indian Ocean island-nation.

President Donald Trump wants a new nuclear weapon. Just a “small” one, no bigger than the ones that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This new one, with a lower yield, would be more “usable” against Russia because it would cause less damage.

At least 44 pro-Islamic State militants were killed and 26 more were wounded when Philippine soldiers shelled positions held by the rebels in southern Maguindanao province, the army said.

There have been at least 429 cases of immigrant parents being separated from their children in the past two years, according to a class-action lawsuit filed on Friday against the Trump administration.

BBC

A drone owner has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed 300 acres of grassland in Arizona’s Coconino national forest. A drone reportedly caught fire after it crashed, igniting dry grasses on an area called Kendrick Park, near Flagstaff.

An Australian MP has wed his partner, three months after proposing to him in parliament during a debate on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has been named “Eternal Supreme Guide” by his political party. The move means no one in the governing CNDD-FDD is allowed to disagree with his choices, secretary-general Evariste Ndayishimiye said. “He is our leader. Therefore in our party… no one is comparable to him,” Mr Ndayishimiye said.

A lightning strike killed at least 16 people and injured dozens more at a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Rwanda on Saturday, an official said. Most of the victims died instantly when lightning hit the church in the southern district of Nyaruguru

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, is to quit over a financial row.

Russia says it has successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, one of a range of nuclear-capable weapons announced by President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

WND

As schools around the country brace for student walkouts following the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, principals and superintendents are scrambling to perform a delicate balancing act: How to let thousands of students exercise their First Amendment rights while not disrupting school and not pulling administrators into the raging debate over gun control.\

U.S. consumers’ total credit card debt exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, according to a new study by the personal finance website WalletHub. Consumers took on an additional $92.2 billion in debt last year, the highest single-year amount since 2007. The average U.S. household owes $8,600 on credit cards, WalletHub found.


The Briefing — Monday, March 12, 2018

1) Statecraft in the 21st century: What happens when a drama is played out on the world stage

The New York Times (Nicholas Kristof) –
President Trump’s North Korea Gamble

2) How a recent decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals may threaten religious liberty

3) The inevitability of the obituary column: the quest for longevity reminds us that there is nothing more certain than death


A Member Of Congress Explains Why The Corruption In Congress Is Much Worse Than You Think

What would you say if I told you that committee chairs were for sale in Congress? And what would you say if I told you that many members of Congress spend far more time on the telephone raising money than on the jobs that the people of their states actually elected them to do? There is a reason why so many Americans absolutely hate Congress. At this moment, Congress has an approval rating of just 15 percent, and approval ratings for Congress have been at extremely low levels for a very long time. We all know that Congress has become completely corrupt, that it is completely unresponsive to the American people and that it has become all about the money. Many have asked why I would want to become part of such a corrupt institution, and I respond by saying that it is time to take our government back. (Read More…)


Opioid crisis is just getting worse

(Reid Wilson – The Hill) The number of Americans turning up in emergency rooms suffering from opioid overdoses has risen sharply in recent years, according to new federal data, as the size and scope of a devastating public health crisis evolves in ways officials say is difficult to combat.

Data released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased by 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017.

Rust Belt states have been hardest hit, with emergency room visits rising 108 percent in Wisconsin, 80 percent in Pennsylvania and 65 percent in Illinois. Indiana and Ohio also experienced substantial growth in overdose treatments.

While the crisis began in rural America among low-income whites, it has now moved into larger urban areas, where minority communities now account for the fastest growth among overdoses and deaths. Emergency room visits in large cities rose by 54 percent over the last year, the CDC data show.

“We often talk about the opioid epidemic as a singular epidemic. But if you look at it it’s actually two distinct epidemics going on simultaneously,” said Jon Zibbell, a senior public health scientist at RTI International, a public health nonprofit. “In some states, prescription opioids were driving the epidemic. In other states, illicit opioids are driving the epidemic. And in some states it’s both.”

Those watching the epidemic unfold say deaths caused by opioid overdoses will rise before they fall — perhaps dramatically.

Opioid overdoses killed an estimated 33,000 Americans in 2015, more than half the total number of deaths caused by drug overdoses, according to the latest data made available by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As recently as 2001, fewer than 10,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses.  View article →


Homosexual Actor/Singer Ricky Martin: ‘I Want to Normalize’ Same-Sex, Open Relationships

(Christian News) In a recent interview with the website Vulture, actor and singer Ricky Martin said that he wants to “normalize” same-sex and open relationships, remarking that he believes that it is “good for the world.”

Martin was talking about his role in the sensual and sin-saturated FX television series “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” as he plays Antonio D’Amico, the homosexual partner of Gianni Versace. “I want to normalize relationships like this. It’s good for the world; it’s good for me as a gay man with kids,” he told the outlet. “It’s important that we shed some light on power couples like this, even though he was quiet and behind the scenes and he was just there supporting his man for 15 years.” View article →


Government Accountability Office: American Taxpayers Gave $1.5 Billion to Abortion Providers

(Breitbart) The report, which was requested by 120 members of Congress led by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN), Pete Olson (R-TX) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), shows that, between 2013 and 2015, taxpayers sent $1.5 billion to abortion providers Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and Marie Stopes International (MSI). GAO found that these three organizations spent $410 million in federal funding between 2013 and 2015, and received $1.2 billion combined federal and state funds under federal health programs that require shared funding. View article →

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 12, 2018

Iron Eyes Lizzy Is ‘Not Running’ for President

Elizabeth Warren makes the rounds on the Sunday shows to deny her bid and double down on her ancestry.

The Foundation

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a state than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.” —Samuel Adams (1775)

News – 3/12/2018

The Copper Scroll Project: In Search of the Ark of the Covenant

Jim Barfield, founder and director of The Copper Scroll Project, believes he has found in the enigmatic Copper Scroll the key to the location of the cave where the Ark of the Covenant is hidden, along with the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Altar of Incense.

After US Visit, Netanyahu Warns of Nuclearization in Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of potential nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, while addressing a weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday. “Many countries in the Middle East are saying that they are also allowed to enrich uranium if Iran is allowed to do so,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore, the way to prevent this danger, the nuclearization of the Middle East, is to either thoroughly correct the agreement or abrogate it.”

Trump’s Military Parade to Take Place in November

A Pentagon memo sent to the Joint Chief of Staff on Thursday announced that the military parade President Trump requested in January will be added as part of the usual November 11, Veterans Day celebrations, though it will not be as extravagant as the president hoped.

Third Nor’Easter this month brings snow, wind and travel problems

Tonight into Tuesday another nor’easter will develop off the east coast, but this one should stay for the most part offshore. The greatest impacts will be felt across eastern New England eastern Long Island and parts of upstate NY.

Israel, Trump and United Nations should boycott Abbas and the PLO

“But to get peace, to get peace President Abbas has to embrace peace and to stop supporting terror. Raise your hands high if you agree with me that President Abbas should stop paying terrorists who murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about $350 million dollars a year to terrorists and their families, each year. That’s about a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget.

Who needs Germany and France? Brussels bigwigs push Merkel and Macron aside on EU future

RADICAL plans for Eurozone reform championed by France and Germany have been put on hold, with the two countries failing to even express support for their own proposals ahead of a major summit later this month. And according to EU officials, any future announcement for Eurozone reform has now been postponed indefinitely. An anonymous EU official told Der Spiegel: “The thing has been cancelled.

Five years on, Pope Francis under fire over sex abuse scandals

As Pope Francis marks the fifth year of his papacy next week, the pontiff once hailed as a fearless reformer is under fire for his handling of the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

Republican Jewish Coalition Calls on 7 Democrats to Resign Because of Their Links With Anti-Semitic Hate-Preacher Louis Farrakhan

Given their association and personal meetings with the hateful, anti-Semitic Louis Farrrakhan, seven members of the Democratic Party should resign, because their meetings with Farrakhan are morally and politically no different than if they had met with the Ku Klux Klan, said the Republican Jewish Coalition in a March 8 statement.

Doing the Work Americans Won’t Do: Illegal Aliens Indicted on Felony Charges After Voting in 2016 Election

….Obama encouraged illegal aliens to vote right before the 2016 presidential election. Criminal Obama assured illegal aliens that nobody would be able to track them down and there would be no repercussions if they voted in the election so they had nothing to worry about.

Report: Homeless Deaths Go Uncounted in Bay Area

…The Chronicle investigated several state and federal agencies—including county health departments, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, the California Department of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and found that none had records of homeless deaths.

Science confirms Genesis Flood account, again

For the first time, scientists have corroborated with direct evidence that the Earth has oceans of water deep within mantle by actually recovering some trapped inside diamonds.

Rwanda Seventh-Day Adventist churchgoers killed by lightning

A lightning strike killed at least 16 people and injured dozens more at a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Rwanda on Saturday, an official said. Most of the victims died instantly when lightning hit the church in the southern district of Nyaruguru, local mayor Habitegeko Francois told AFP.

GERMANISTAN: In the dead of night, illegal alien Muslim migrants are being flown into Germany – 10,000 every month

Nearly one-third of all adult Muslim migrants arriving in Germany are traveling there by airplane, according to discoveries made by a member of parliament. “Speculation has been rife that the country is ushering in thousands of migrants via Cologne Bonn Airport, fuelled by the fact every night numerous planes from Turkey are landing,” and no doubt being funded by the UN and George Soros.

WW3 RED ALERT: Russian jets’ ‘DARK MISSIONS’ over Baltic spark fears of covert invasion of Europe

NCREASED Russian military activity over the Baltic region has triggered concern from a top military chief Vladimir Putin is preparing for a covert invasion of Europe.

END OF MANKIND? Global pandemic warning as WHO discovers new killer pathogen with no cure

A KILLER microbe with the potential to wipe out human life has been identified by scientists at the World Health Organisation.

California Gov. Endorses Dangerous Toilet to Tap Drinking Water

On Oct 26, 2015, I interviewed Deborah Tavares and she covered the cntroversial topic of toilet to tap reusable water that cannot fully be treated. The practice is disgusting and dangerous and now, a full 3 years after Deborah’s revelation, California has OK’d toilet to tap water practice. What are the implications?

Mother’s Day cards go gender-neutral

Waitrose is selling gender-neutral Mother’s Day cards as retailers reduce their use of the M-word to make today’s celebration more “transgender inclusive”. The supermarket chain is selling a “Happy You Day” card in its Mother’s Day range in which the word “mother” does not appear.

World health chief stokes the panic fires by warning that a catastrophic global pandemic is imminent… humanity WIPEOUT foreshadowed?

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director-general for the World Health Organization(WHO), has said that the next outbreak that will hit us will be a “terrible” one, causing huge amounts of death all over the world. Fears of a pandemic have been hovering lately after the worst flu outbreak in recent years devastated Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Have Israeli researchers discovered Israel’s new cash crop?

Researchers in Israel said they have succeeded in cultivating commercially desert truffles whose market price reaches $120 per pound — slightly less than the cost of silver and four times that of uranium.


Headlines – 3/12/2018

Netanyahu said to tell cabinet still no ‘concrete’ US peace plan

How Saudi Crown Prince is working on PA-Israel conflict: Plan a mega city connecting Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Trump’s deal is also on the table.

Honduras, Paraguay said ready to open Jerusalem embassies if Netanyahu visits

Abbas warns officials not to lash out at Arab countries after Palestinian sources are quoted accusing regional allies of colluding with Trump

Trump administration backs PLO in terror lawsuit, angering conservatives

In sixth incident in months, Palestinians caught trying to bomb court

UNHRC report: Settlements are a war crime

Anti-semitism has been so politicized its name should be changed if you care about it

Report: Israel to abandon bid for UN Security Council seat

Netanyahu, coalition heads hold 11th-hour talks to avert early elections

Coalition deal reached, likely to end crisis, avoid elections

Israeli politicians suspect Netanyahu seeks election to survive corruption probes

Will Netanyahu’s corruption scandal affect the Middle East?

IDF launches nationwide exercise, including mock rocket attack

U.S., Israel can’t afford confrontation, Iranian commander warns

Trump: No flexibility in renegotiating Iran deal with Europe – report

Trump to Netanyahu: ‘If Europe won’t fix Iran deal, US will nix agreement’

Netanyahu warns of Mideast nuclear arms race

Arms imports to Middle East jump 103 percent in 5 years

Egypt army says 16 terrorists killed in Sinai operation

Britain, Saudi Arabia call for Hezbollah disarmament

US warns ‘unwise’ for Syria to use weaponized gas, slams Russia

At least 44 militants killed in clash with Philippine troops, says army

China’s Xi joins Russia, Zimbabwe in global autocrat club

Jimmy Carter on North Korea: ‘It’s good we’re going to be talking to them’

Mattis says US-North Korea diplomacy is at delicate stage

Russia test-fires ‘ideal’ hyper-sonic missile

Putin’s Russia: From basket case to resurgent superpower

Russian spy attack nerve agent found at UK city spots

Millennials disrupting security landscape moving toward biometrics and away from passwords

Coming Soon to a Front Porch Near You: Package Delivery Via Drone

AAA: Spring gas prices could approach a ‘tipping point’ for drivers

Elon Musk, speaking at SXSW, projects Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Puerto Villamil, Ecuador

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 19,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Lightning kills 16 in Rwanda while they were praying

Pharma Billionaire Arrested On Charges of Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioid Painkillers

Pence: Abortion will end in U.S. ‘in our time’

Gay Conversion Therapist Found Guilty of Having Sex with Male Patients to ‘Cure’ Them

Scientology Poised to Launch TV Network

Netanyahu warns that ‘Darkness is descending on our region”

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 06:21 AM PDT

Netanyahu warns that ‘Darkness is descending on our region”Speaking before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed the strong bond between Israel and the U.S. while also issuing strong words of warning about a nuclear Iran. “It is especially great to be in America’s capital now that it’s acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thank you, President Trump, for that historic decision,” the prime minister said to a round of applause from the AIPAC audience.

He also praised the Trump administration for reinforcing that move with the relocation of America’s embassy. “Thank you for announcing another decision—to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this Independence Day,” Netanyahu said, drawing more applause. Netanyahu made it clear that the US was not the only country with which Israel had strong ties. He went on to tout the Jewish state’s flourishing diplomatic relations with its neighbors in the Middle East and beyond—160 countries to be exact. READ MORE

PROPHECY WATCH: 57 Muslim nations urged to besiege Israel

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 06:11 AM PDT

PROPHECY WATCH: 57 Muslim nations urged to besiege Israel

Psalm 83:2-5

2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
For they have consulted together with one consent;

They form a confederacy against You:

A Turkish newspaper close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party is urging 57 Islamic nations to build a joint army specifically to attack Israel, notes a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.  The Middle East Media Research Institute reports the article appeared on the paper’s website under the title “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed against Israel?” It was published shortly ahead of a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 members, MEMRI reported. The

article notes, MEMRI said, “that such a joint army will greatly exceed the Israeli army in manpower, equipment and budget, and presents statistics to prove this.”  “It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army’s ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has ‘a special status’ among the OIC countries,” the report said. MEMRI explained that many of the major points in the newspaper article were “taken from the website of the Turkish SADAT International Defense and Consulting Company, READ MORE

Russia test fires planet’s most deadly and unstoppable nuke

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 06:00 AM PDT

Russia test fires planet’s most deadly and unstoppable nukeAmid British dithering over how best to respond to the poisonings in Salisbury Vladimir Putin put on a defiant show of massive Russian strength today launching an ‘unstoppable’ Kinzhal nuclear missile.  The Russian ministry of defense announced a MiG-31 interceptor jet successfully made a training launch of the terrifying new hypersonic missile in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The test launch comes just days after the Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia had developed a terrifying array of nuclear weapons that can reach anywhere in the world and are “invulnerable to enemy interception”. And it follows an announcement by Theresa May on Friday that she was working on a “full spectrum” retaliation against Mr Putin if Moscow is found responsible for the nerve agent hit on spy Sergei Skripal.  READ MORE

YouTube Quietly Relies On Far-Left Organization To Help Police Content

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 05:48 AM PDT

YouTube Quietly Relies On Far-Left Organization To Help Police Content(By PNW) Silicon Valley has enormous power over the flow of information that reaches people around the globe. That’s why it’s vital for Americans to understand how tech giants can manipulate information, either intentionally or unwittingly, to advance a political agenda.  A report by The Daily Caller said that Youtube, which is owned by Google, is using the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing activist nonprofit that bills itself as an objective civil rights organization, to assist in policing content on their video-sharing website.

In 2016, Youtube was accused of censoring PragerU videos, and more recently, Google was lambasted for creating a seemingly partisan “fact-checker” function for its search engine that almost exclusively targeted right-leaning media outlets. “The left-wing nonprofit [SPLC]—which has more recently come under fire for labeling legitimate conservative organizations as ‘hate groups’ is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations … and government agencies in YouTube’s ‘Trusted Flaggers’ program,” according to The Daily Caller.  READ MORE

Volcanologists warn world is unprepared for next major eruption

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 03:23 PM PDT

Volcanologists warn world is unprepared for next major eruptionThe world needs to do more to prepare for the next huge volcanic eruption, a team of leading scientists says. The devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan in 2011 highlighted some of the worst-case scenarios for natural disasters. But humanity has not had to deal with a cataclysmic volcanic disaster since at least 1815, when the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia killed tens of thousands of people and led to a ‘year without a summer’ in Europe and North America.

Such world-altering blasts rank at 7 or more on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of eruptions, which goes to 8. “The next VEI-7 eruption could occur within our lifetimes, or it could be hundreds of years down the road,” says Chris Newhall, a volcanologist with the Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center in Santo Domingo, Philippines. But the time to have this discussion is now, he says, so that researchers and government officials can plan and prepare before an emergency strikes. READ MORE

At least 16 dead and more than 140 injured after single lightning hits church in Rwanda, Africa

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 03:18 PM PDT

At least 16 dead and more than 140 injured after single lightning hits church in Rwanda, AfricaLightning killed at least 16 people and injured 140 others after it struck a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rwanda. The injured churchgoers were taken to a nearby hospital. Most of the injured have been released, but 17 remain in the hospital. Most of the victims died instantly when lightning hit the church in the southern district of Nyaruguru. Two people died from their injuries, and 140 people were rushed to hospital and health centers.

The weather accident in the mountainous region near the border with Burundi took place around midday on Saturday while parishioners of the town of Gihemvu were at a church service. The deadly church incident comes less than two weeks after the closure of more than 700 Rwandan churches for failing to comply with building regulations and for noise pollution. A high number of the closed churches did not have required lightning rods to prevent from lightning strikes. READ MORE

5 Mysteries of Jesus Hidden in the Old Testament

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 01:42 PM PDT

5 Mysteries of Jesus Hidden in the Old Testament(By Carole Schryber) No child likes to go to the doctor’s office, but I do have one fond memory of the waiting room—the Highlights magazine! I would immediately turn to the Hidden Pictures page. How many items could I find? In a similar way the Old Testament has “hidden” pictures of Jesus. He doesn’t just show up for the first time in a manger in Bethlehem. He is in the Bible from the beginning! How many pictures of Him can we find? Here are five:

At creation: When we consider the account of creation, we tend to think of only God the Father. Yet when God is about to create man, He declares, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen.1:26a). Who is included in “our”? John, the Gospel writer, gives us the answer: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through Him, and without Him nothing was created that was created” (John 1:1-3). We know that “The Word” is Jesus, who “became flesh and dwelt among us”(John 1:14b)

With Abraham: In Genesis 14, Abraham had just succeeded in battle when he was greeted by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who had a few interesting characteristics. First of all, he was both a priest of the God Most High and a king—unheard of anywhere else in the Old Testament. His name means “king of righteousness.” He was from Salem, which means “peace.” In other words, he was a king of righteousness and peace. He brought to Abraham bread and wine, and he blessed Abraham. Abraham felt compelled to give him a tithe. Does this remind you of anyone else? Jesus is both King and Priest. Jesus is the King of righteousness and the Prince of Peace. Jesus broke bread and wine with His disciples to remind them of His body and blood which would be sacrificed for them. Jesus gives blessings to those who believe, and is alone worthy of our worship and our tithes. While scholars have debated whether Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Christ, at the very least, we can agree that He was a “type,” or picture, of Christ. READ MORE

Dentists keep dying of deadly lung disease, Leaving CDC baffled

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 01:36 PM PDT

Dentists keep dying of deadly lung disease, Leaving CDC baffledSeven of the patients were dead, and two more were dying of a rare chronic, progressive lung disease that can be treated but not cured.  It’s estimated that about 200,000 people in the United States have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) at any one time. But the common denominator of a small group of patients at a Virginia clinic over a 15-year period is worrying the Centers for Disease Control: Eight were dentists; a ninth was a dental technician.

The dental professionals were 23 times more likely to have IPF than the rest of the population, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released on Friday. Something in their workplace environment may have been poisoning them, investigators said, although they don’t know what. IPF causes scarring of the lungs, according to the report. It can be slowed, but nothing can remove the scar tissue. Over time, the lungs have difficulty getting oxygen to vital organs like the heart and brain. READ MORE

Footage of mysterious object above ocean stuns military…

Posted: 11 Mar 2018 01:33 PM PDT

Footage of mysterious object above ocean stuns military…Newly-released video of a mysterious object streaking over the Atlantic Ocean shows the Pentagon needs to take UFOs seriously, a researcher says. The sensational two-minute clip captured by a camera aboard a US Navy F/A 18 jet flying at 25,000 feet wowed military personnel. “What the f— is that thing?” shouted the pilot in the video posted online by the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, a

private research company. “Oh my gosh dude!” exclaimed the jet’s weapons systems officer. The video was shot off the East Coast in 2015. To the Stars Academy did not say how it obtained the declassified footage, but said others could obtain it through a Freedom of Information Act request. Three videos showing similar incidents became public last year in reports of $22 million in Pentagon spending on UFO research. READ MORE


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Bible Verses to Conquer Fear And Know God’s Peace

Here is how we cultivate hope and put fear to flight. The key is to “call to mind” the truth about our God. We must call to mind the fact that God’s steadfast love for us NEVER ceases. We must call to mind that his mercies to us NEVER come to an end. We must call to mind that every single morning God has new mercies for us. And we must call to mind God’s infinitely great faithfulness.

I don’t know a single person who isn’t tempted to fear from time to time.

We can be tempted to fear for our kids and grandkids. I recently said to my wife, “I thought when our kids were grown and out of the house, all our worries would be over. But now they are even bigger! Not only for our kids, but now we have grandchildren to worry about!”

We can be tempted to fear for the future of our nation, especially the more we watch the news. Tempted to fear for our finances. Or our health. And most of us face the temptation to daily anxieties.

Thankfully, there are Bible verses about fear…

…about anxiety…

…about worry.

God knows our fears, and he has given us many, many Bible verses to help us overcome our fears.

What Is Fear?

To fear is to “be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.” (Dictionary.com)

When we fear, we use our God-given imaginations in a way we weren’t designed to. We imagine the future, and we imagine something really bad happening. It’s the opposite of the positive thinkers who say we should imagine ourselves getting rich every day. That we should put a picture of a brand new car on our fridge, and imagine ourselves driving down the freeway.

When we fear, our minds picture all kinds of scenarios, and then we try to figure out what we will do when they happen. And that can send us spinning.

Not only can our own imaginations lead us down rabbit trails of fear, but Satan himself tempts us to be afraid, for if he can get our focus on the possible bad things we may face, we won’t focus on God. We won’t pray to God, or trust him or enjoy him. And we may try to alleviate our fears in sinful ways.

But God tells us not to fear. And he gives us hundreds of Bible verses about fear. These verses are intended to give us peace in the midst of the hurricanes of life. 

But we must fight to believe God’s word and not give in to fear. I’m not saying this is easy. But God’s will is that we experience his deep rest and joy. Here are a few wonderful Scriptures to help fight for God’s peace and joy.

Verse #1: Fear Not (Isaiah 43:1-3)

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

God tells his children to “Fear not”. Why? Because he has redeemed us and made us his own.

He has called us by name. Therefore when we go through hard things – when we pass through waters, rivers and fire, God himself, our Savior, will be with us, and will keep and protect us.

Yes, we will go through waters and flames – we will go through various afflictions in this life – but they won’t harm us at all.

Verse #2: God Is For Us (Romans 8)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39)

What a boatload of peace-assuring promises. God, the Creator of all things, the all-powerful one is FOR US. But not only that, he gave up his precious SON to purchase us!

If he gave his Son for us, won’t he meet our needs? Won’t he keep us safe? Won’t he give us any lesser thing we need?

Therefore NOTHING – nothing now or in the future will be able to separate us from his love for us in Jesus.

And because he loves us in Christ, he will meet our every need.

Verse #3: Engraved On His Hands (Isaiah 49:15-16)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

What mom would forget her nursing baby? It may rarely happen, but God will NEVER FORGET one of his children. He has engraved us on the palms of his hands.

When Jesus looks upon his glorified hands, and sees the marks of the cross, he sees our names engraved there. He will never forget us!

I know parents who have their children’s names tattooed on their arms. How much more did Jesus engrave our names upon his hands when he died for us on the cross!

Verse #4: The Steadfast Love Of The Lord (Lamentations 3:21-23)

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Here is how we cultivate hope and put fear to flight. The key is to “call to mind” the truth about our God.

We must call to mind the fact that God’s steadfast love for us NEVER ceases. We must call to mind that his mercies to us NEVER come to an end.

We must call to mind that every single morning God has new mercies for us. And we must call to mind God’s infinitely great faithfulness.

I memorized this passage years ago, and I begin most days when I wake up by saying something like, “Thank you Lord, for the gift of sleep. Thank you for your protection during the night. Thank you for your steadfast love that never ceases. Thank you for your mercies that never end. Thank you for your new mercies this morning. Thank you for your faithfulness.”

Write this passage on a notecard. Read it every day. Memorize it. CALL TO MIND these truths about our faithful, merciful God and you will find God’s peace growing in your life.

Verse #5: Wait For The Lord (Psalm 27:13-14)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! PS 27:13-14

Satan tries to get us to believe we will look upon bad things in the future. To combat this we must remember, that even if we can’t see it now, we WILL look upon God’s goodness in this life and certainly the next. When we meditate on these things it helps us to let our hearts take courage rather than fear.

Verse #6: How Abundant His Goodness (Psalm 31:19)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)

God has abundant goodness stored up for us!

We should not fear the future, but fear God and take refuge in him, because he has ABUNDANT GOODNESS STORED UP for us. God has bags and bags of grace stored up for us. He has blessings waiting that we can’t even imagine – abundant blessings. Not just a little bit. Memorize these verses too!

Verse #7: Do Not Be Anxious About Anything (Philippians 4:7)

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Here’s how to combat anxiety for the future: pray and give thank God “in everything” – in everything you are tempted to worry about. Keep lifting your requests to God. Keep thanking him for everything you can think of.

The result: “the peace of God” – God’s very own peace – “which surpasses all understanding” – a peace that human understanding can’t grasp – “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Pray! Thank God! All day long.

Verse #8: Humble Yourselves (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

God promises to give grace to the humble. When we cast our anxieties on him, he promises to “exalt us” – lift us up – at the proper time.

Why should we cast our anxieties on God? “Because he cares for you” – the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the galaxies CARES FOR YOU. Incredible!

God is not too busy running the universe to care for us tiny specks of dust – he cares for us because he has redeemed us by the blood of his Son. He cares for us because he has adopted us as his own children. He cares about every detail of our lives. Cast your anxieties on him!

Verse #9: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)

If you believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Great Shepherd, then he is YOUR personal shepherd, and you shall want for nothing.

Jesus will make you lie down in green pastures, not deserts. Green pastures are rich and full. Jesus will lead you by still waters – a picture of peace.

He will restore your soul – again, a picture of peace and fullness. He will lead you and guide you in paths of righteousness – in his will, in ways that bring blessing to your life.

And he will do this for his name’s sake – for his glory. He will glorify himself in your life. No matter what you go through you won’t fear any evil because he will be with you. He will protect you. He will comfort you.

There are many more Bible verses about fear. Do some searches. Search for Bible verses on God’s peace, on fear, etc.

Write down your favorites. Memorize them. Believe them. And don’t forget to pray and give thanks always. And Jesus will give you his incredible, deep peace.

Mark Altrogge has been the senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well-known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence.” This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post Bible Verses to Conquer Fear And Know God’s Peace appeared first on The Aquila Report.

How Do You Guard Your Heart?

I was 12 when I took my first self defense class. But I’ve been protecting myself a lot longer than that; we come out of the womb with an aversion to pain.

Beyond learning to avoid situations that would bring physical pain, I protected everything I cared about from my favorite stickers, to my prized Michael Jordan basketball. Nothing was safe unless I carefully watched it.

So when my parents taught me to guard my heart, I caught on quickly.

Guard your heart, guard your heart, guard your heart. Not only have I been told that my whole life, but also I spent years drilling those three words into the middle and high school girls I discipled. But as my teens melted into my twenties, guarding my heart turned into imprisoning it.

What does it really mean to “guard your heart”? To protect your emotions, affections, and soul? I’ve been forced to reconsider my definition and my role in the process. I’ll tell you what it’s not.

It’s not kissing dating goodbye.

It’s not self-protecting.

And it’s not encasing your heart in lead so no one can get in to break it.

In fact, when I took this question to Scripture, I was surprised by the life-giving answer I found.

What “Guard” Really Means

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

While Proverbs 4:23 is the go-to verse about “guarding” your heart, could it be possible that it’s not all there is to the story?

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered “guard” doesn’t mean bar, seal, or coat in a shield of lead. In the Hebrew, “keep” (interchangeable with “guard”) literally means “to set a watchman over it” — but not just any watchman.

I’ve been driven by fear to guard my heart, scared of the consequences if I didn’t. So, instead of setting a watchman over it, I locked it up out of panic that it would escape. I feared that it would lead me to sin, and that I would be to blame for the prison break.

The Watchman

As I pored over Scripture, light bulbs were flipping on right and left; for nowhere in the Bible does God command us to keep or guard our hearts in our own strength. The Lord means for us to guard our hearts by filtering our emotions, desires, thoughts, and responses through his Word.

He is the watchman that protects our souls. And what’s his primary means of defense? The sword of Scripture.

The task is simple: We are commanded to keep ourselves in his Word, and he keeps our hearts.

…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 21)

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9)

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:7-8, NIV)

The Real Prisoner

“You have barbed wire around your heart.” That’s what my pastor has told me for years. Fear held my heart captive and I wouldn’t let anything in or out.

That’s why Proverbs 4 is so significant for those of us who are prone to keeping our emotions and heart on lockdown. It breathes peace into anxiety and tells us what the real prisoner should be.

My son, be attentive to my words;

incline your ear to my sayings.

Let them not escape from your sight;

keep them within your heart. (Proverbs 4:20-21, emphasis mine)

Why the command to keep these words of truth as prisoners in our hearts? Because, as the passage goes on to say, they are inmates that bring growth and the cure for our fear-drenched soul.

For they are life to those who find them,

and healing to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:22, emphasis mine)

Are you like me, longing for life and healing? It’s found in the Word of Truth made flesh, the Lord Jesus who gives life and heals all wounds.

Are you like me, longing for protection and security? It’s found in the Lord Jesus who gives eternal protection and security to all those who are his (1 Peter 1:5).

The devil may hate me with all the vehemence of his malicious nature; but ‘love is strong as death,’ and the love of God in Christ is my everlasting safeguard. (Susannah Spurgeon)

Guaranteed Protection

We must remember that God’s way of guarding of our hearts may differ from our idea of how he will do so. We see in Scripture that God will not protect us from pain, hurt, or anything that will make us look more like Jesus (1 Peter 1:6-9). And he will not keep us from any circumstance or situation—no matter how brutal—that will lead us into a deeper knowledge of his heart.

The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts. This doesn’t mean pain doesn’t come, but that when it does we can rest (and ultimately rejoice) because we know who has allowed it. This process, like everything else, goes back to either believing or disbelieving God’s character.

He who gave us a new heart can be trusted to protect it (Ezekiel 36:26).


The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts.
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Our tender new hearts are not guaranteed protection from wounds; not even Jesus was kept from that. But they are guaranteed protection by a Savior who filters everything that comes to us through his nail-scarred hands that were pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). What comes to us must first pass through him. Because he took our worst threat upon himself and saved our hearts from the wrath of God, we can trust him to continue keeping our hearts for eternity.

This truth speaks peace to the winds and waves of my storm-tossed mind and gives this fear-prone heart immediate rest.

If through a broken heart God can bring his purposes to pass in the world, then thank him for breaking your heart. (Oswald Chambers)

Application

What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for his Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with his Word.

  • Are you actively setting the Word of God as a watchman over your soul by reading it and hearing it preached?
  • Are you filtering your circumstances, decisions, thoughts, and responses through what God’s Word says?
  • Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?
  • Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting the all-sufficient One to be your defender?
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The post How Do You Guard Your Heart? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

You Can Change Yourself (Can You?)

Cameron Buettel urges Christian leaders to repudiate the philosophy that says you can change yourself that’s promoted by self-help gurus Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and their ilk and replace that worldly philosophy with “the truth of biblical anthropology—that all men are, by nature, totally depraved sinners.” But instead, pastors with rock star status like Joel Osteen and Steven Furtick “see it as an opportunity to market a ‘Christianized’ version of the same lie.” 

So, can the self-help or positive confession of Osteen and Furtick and their ilk change the nature of a sinner? The answer is no, says Buettel. He believes that “Nothing less than divine regeneration is needed.”

In his post over at Grace to You, Cameron Buettel reveals what he means by divine regeneration. He writes:

Jeremiah 13:23

Code: B180312

Just reading billboards on a road trip is enough to realize that people want to change their lives. Whether it be physical, financial, or relational, there are a vast range of self-help industries that have sprung up around the world’s insatiable demand for self-improvement. In effect, they perpetuate a lie that dominates the world: you can change yourself.

Of course, it is possible to change some features of our lives—at least temporarily. We can change our hairstyles, get makeovers, lose weight, make more money, find love, change careers, or move to a new city and start all over. But our root problem always remains—an inner sinful nature that refuses to change.

You Can’t Change Yourself

Many of the changes in your life are a function of self-restraint or self-discipline. If you earnestly want to lose weight, stop smoking, or find a better job, you can achieve those external goals through acts of willpower.

But no amount of willpower can change the essentials of who you are. Your intellectual capacity and your genetic makeup are not malleable. Nor, critically, is the fundamental spiritual state you were born into. There is nothing you can do to shed your sin nature. The prophet Jeremiah effectively said as much when he rebuked Israel for their continual rebellion against God: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

Jeremiah understood the issue we discussed in our previous post—that all men are sinners by nature. He knew that we have as much chance of altering our own nature as changing the color of our skin, or stripping the spots off a leopard.

Self-help gurus like Tony Robbins may profess that “we can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” [1] But it’s nothing more than a bogus promise built upon bankrupt theology.

Christian leaders should repudiate the worldly philosophy of Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and their ilk with the truth of biblical anthropology—that all men are, by nature, totally depraved sinners. Instead, preachers like Joel Osteen and Steven Furtick see it as an opportunity to market a “Christianized” version of the same lie. In fact, Osteen has written an entire book on the subject. The promotional summary for his book The Power of I Am explains:

Can two words give you the power to change your life? Yes they can! In the pages of his new book, bestselling author Joel Osteen shares a profound principle based on a simple truth. Whatever follows the words “I am” will always come looking for you.

Osteen’s book wouldn’t be so offensive if it was properly categorized as fiction. Somehow it manages to adorn the shelves of Christian bookstores as biblical truth.

Yet no amount of self-help or positive confession can change the nature of a sinner. Nothing less than divine regeneration is needed.

Dead Men Need Resurrection, Not Reform

The apostle Paul described the fallen human condition as being “dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). All a dead man can do is remain in his present state. That is, unless God raises the dead and makes him a new creature. That’s why Paul also described Christian conversion as becoming “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In the Old Testament, God confronted the prophet Ezekiel with the same reality regarding the dead spiritual condition of rebellious Israel. In Ezekiel 37:1–14, God transports the prophet to a valley of dry bones. As Ezekiel found himself surrounded by a vast sea of skeletal corpses, God asked him “can these bones live?” He could only respond, “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3), because Ezekiel knew only a divine miracle could revive those dry bones.

God gave Ezekiel a message to preach in that valley, but the mass resurrections that took place (Ezekiel 37:7-10) were because of the divine impartation of new life: “I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive” (Ezekiel 37:6). “I will put my Spirit within you and you will come to life” (Ezekiel 37:14).

That passage is an amazing picture of what evangelism really is. We stand among masses of people who are dead in sin. We aren’t called to persuade them back to life, or to modify their behavior along some imagined spectrum of morality. We’re not interested in merely rearranging the skeletons in Ezekiel’s valley.

We are called to proclaim the gospel, and trust God to raise His people from the death of sin to new life in Christ. Ultimately, it is only regeneration wrought by God that can produce any meaningful change in the spiritual status of a sinner.

Just prior to Ezekiel 37, God made it explicitly clear that He is sovereignly in charge of every meaningful change when a sinner is converted—everything from regeneration to sanctification. Note God’s repeated use of personal pronouns in Ezekiel 36:25–27.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:25–27)

That passage was central to Christ’s discussion with Nicodemus. The Lord highlighted the uselessness of human effort as an agent of spiritual change. When Jesus told him that he needed to be “born again” (John 3:3), “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), He was referring back to Ezekiel 36:25–27. John MacArthur makes that connection in his commentary on John’s gospel.

It was surely this passage that Jesus had in mind, showing regeneration to be an Old Testament truth (cf. Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 11:18–20) with which Nicodemus would have been acquainted. Against this Old Testament backdrop, Christ’s point was unmistakable: Without the spiritual washing of the soul, a cleansing accomplished only by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) through the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26), no one can enter God’s kingdom.

Jesus continued by emphasizing that this spiritual cleansing is wholly a work of God, and not the result of human effort: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). . . . Regeneration is entirely His work, unaided by any human effort (cf. Romans 3:25). [2]

Man-made efforts at personal transformation are about as useful as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They are temporary, superficial, and ultimately inconsequential.

Like Ezekiel, Christians need to focus on one thing: faithful proclamation of the message we have been commanded to preach. And God, in His sovereign wisdom, will regenerate the dead around us as He sees fit.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180312
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

March 12, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Sovereign Departure

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” (27:46–49)

A second miracle occurred at about the ninth hour, or three o’clock in the afternoon, through an inexplicable event that might be called sovereign departure, as somehow God was separated from God.

At that time Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” As Matthew explains, the Hebrew Eli (Mark uses the Aramaic form, “Eloi,” 15:34) means, My God, and lama sabachthani means, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Because Jesus was quoting the well-known Psalm 22, there could have been little doubt in the minds of those who were standing there as to what Jesus was saying. They had been taunting Him with His claim to be God’s Son (v. 43), and an appeal for divine help would have been expected. Their saying, “This man is calling for Elijah,” was not conjecture about what He said but was simply an extension of their cruel, cynical mockery.

In this unique and strange miracle, Jesus was crying out in anguish because of the separation He now experienced from His heavenly Father for the first and only time in all of eternity. It is the only time of which we have record that Jesus did not address God as Father. Because the Son had taken sin upon Himself, the Father turned His back. That mystery is so great and imponderable that it is not surprising that Martin Luther is said to have gone into seclusion for a long time trying to understand it and came away as confused as when he began. In some way and by some means, in the secrets of divine sovereignty and omnipotence, the God-Man was separated from God for a brief time at Calvary, as the furious wrath of the Father was poured out on the sinless Son, who in matchless grace became sin for those who believe in Him.

Habakkuk declared of God, “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). God turned His back when Jesus was on the cross because He could not look upon sin, even-or perhaps especially-in His own Son. Just as Jesus loudly lamented, God the Father had indeed forsaken Him.

Jesus did not die as a martyr to a righteous cause or simply as an innocent man wrongly accused and condemned. Nor, as some suggest, did He die as a heroic gesture against man’s inhumanity to man. The Father could have looked favorably on such selfless deaths as those. But because Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, the righteous heavenly Father had to judge Him fully according to that sin.

The Father forsook the Son because the Son took upon Himself “our transgressions, … our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgression” (Rom. 4:25) and “died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). He “who knew no sin [became] sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21) and became “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet. 2:24), “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), and became “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Jesus Christ not only bore man’s sin but actually became sin on man’s behalf, in order that those who believe in Him might be saved from the penalty of their sin. Jesus came to teach men perfectly about God and to be a perfect example of God’s holiness and righteousness. But, as He Himself declared, the supreme reason for His coming to earth was not to teach or to be an example but “to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

When Christ was forsaken by the Father, their separation was not one of nature, essence, or substance. Christ did not in any sense or degree cease to exist as God or as a member of the Trinity. He did not cease to be the Son, any more than a child who sins severely against his human father ceases to be his child. But Jesus did for a while cease to know the intimacy of fellowship with His heavenly Father, just as a disobedient child ceases for a while to have intimate, normal, loving fellowship with his human father.

By the incarnation itself there already had been a partial separation. Because Jesus had been separated from His divine glory and from face-to-face communication with the Father, refusing to hold on to those divine privileges for His own sake (Phil 2:6), He prayed to the Father in the presence of His disciples, “Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). At the cross His separation from the Father became immeasurably more profound than the humbling incarnation during the thirty-three years of His earthly life.

As already mentioned, the mystery of that separation is far too deep even for the most mature believer to fathom. But God has revealed the basic truth of it for us to accept and to understand to the limit of our ability under the illumination of His Spirit. And nowhere in Scripture can we behold the reality of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the anguish of His separation from His Father more clearly and penetratingly than in His suffering on the cross because of sin. In the midst of being willingly engulfed in our sins and the sins of all men of all time, He writhed in anguish not from the lacerations on His back or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with His heavenly Father that His becoming sin for us had brought.

Soon after He cried out to God about being forsaken, “Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said, ‘I am thirsty’ ” (John 19:28). As John then makes clear (v. 29), it was at that time that immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.

The one who ran to help Jesus was probably one of the Roman military guards, and by taking a sponge and filling it with sour wine, he hoped temporarily to slake Jesus’ thirst. The sour wine was a cheap wine highly diluted with water that was a common drink for laborers and soldiers. Because it had a high water and low alcohol content, it was especially helpful in quenching thirst. John gives the added detail that the reed was a hyssop branch (John 19:29), which would not have been longer than eighteen inches. In order for such a short branch to reach Jesus’ lips, the horizontal beam of the cross would have had to be rather low to the ground.

Offering the drink to Jesus was perhaps an act of mercy, but it was minimal in its effect and served only to prolong the torture before death brought relief. But the rest of those standing near the cross used that gesture of kindness as another opportunity to carry their mockery of the Lord still further, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

It seems incredible that even the pitch darkness of midday did not alarm the wicked crowd. They were so bent on scorning Jesus that even such a momentous phenomenon as the blocking out of the sun did not deter them. Being aware of the many Old Testament associations of unnatural darkness with judgment, it would seem they would at least briefly have considered the possibility that divine judgment was occurring at that very moment. But the single thought now on their minds was to make Jesus’ death painful and humiliating. They had no comprehension of the amazing alienation of the Son from the Father.[1]


46 The “cry of desolation” raises two important questions.

  1. In what language did Jesus utter it? Almost all recognize that the words echo Psalm 22:1 (for a list of exceptions, see Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 264–65). But among the variant readings of a confused textual history (see Notes), Matthew keeps “Eli, Eli” (NIV, “Eloi, Eloi”), representing a Hebrew original, and Mark “Eloi, Eloi,” representing an Aramaic original. The remaining words, “lama sabachthani,” are Aramaic. Many suggest that Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 in Hebrew, reverting to the ancient language of Scripture in his hour of utmost agony. Only this, it is argued, accounts for the confusion with “Elijah” in v. 47 and provides a plausible explanation for the rendering “my power” (hē dynamis mou, presupposing Semitic ḥêlî) in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. In this view Mark, or an early copyist of Mark, has turned Jesus’ words into Aramaic, recognizing that Jesus more commonly spoke Aramaic than Hebrew.

However, though Jesus was probably at least trilingual (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek—with perhaps some Latin), the overwhelming textual evidence for the rest of the cry supports an Aramaic original. Even Matthew’s Hebraic-sounding Eli may in fact support an Aramaic original, because the Targum (written in Aramaic) to Psalm 22:1 has ʾēlî. Apparently some Aramaic speakers preserved the Hebrew name for God in the same way some English speakers sometimes refer to him as Yahweh. The evidence of the Gospel of Peter is not decisive because “my power” may not rest on a Semitic original but may be an independent periphrasis for God, akin to Matthew 26:64. Moreover, on the lips of a dying man crying out in agony, Eloi could as easily be mistaken for Elijah as Eli (cf. Broadus; Lagrange; Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 63–66; Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 264–75). Jesus’ cry was most probably in Aramaic; and at least some of the variants stem from the difficulty of transliterating a Semitic language into Greek, and others from the influence of the OT.

  1. What does this psalm quotation signify? A large number of commentators have interpreted the cry against the background of the whole of Psalm 22, which begins with this sense of desolation but ends with the triumphant vindication of the righteous sufferer. The chief difficulty is that though OT texts are frequently cited with their full contexts in mind, they are never cited in such a way that the OT context effectively annuls what the text itself affirms (Bonnard). If the context of Psalm 22 is carried along with the actual reference to Psalm 22:1, the reader of the gospel is to understand that the vindication comes with the resurrection in Matthew 28, not that Jesus’ cry reflects full confidence instead of black despair.

Equally futile is the suggestion of Schweizer and others that these words constitute a more or less standard cry of a pious man dying with the words of a psalm on his lips. But why this psalm when others would be more suitable? Evidence for such a use of Psalm 22 is sparse and late. It is better to take the words at face value: Jesus is conscious of being abandoned by his Father. For one who knew the intimacy of Matthew 11:27, such abandonment must have been agony; and for the same reason, it is inadequate to hypothesize that Jesus felt abandoned but was not truly abandoned (contra Bonnard; Green; McNeile; Senior, Passion Narrative, 298), because “it seems difficult to understand how Jesus, who had lived in the closest possible fellowship with the Father, could have been unaware whether he had, in fact, been abandoned” (Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 274).

If we ask in what ontological sense the Father and the Son are here divided, the answer must be that we do not know because we are not told. If we ask for what purpose they are divided, the ultimate answer must be tied in with Gethsemane, the Last Supper, passion passages such as 1:21; 20:28 (see also 26:26–29, 39–44), and the theological interpretation articulated by Paul (e.g., Ro 3:21–26). In this cry of dereliction, the horror of the world’s sin and the cost of our salvation are revealed, a fact that should be clear from surrounding details: (1) The verb “to save,” used in the preceding verses, has forced us to remember that Jesus came to save his people from their sins (1:21). (2) The darkness covering the land must signal something like the loss of the light of the Father’s presence. (3) The result of Jesus’ death is the tearing of the temple curtain (v. 51), signaling full and free access into the presence of the holy God, which is possible only because sin has been paid for and the judgment of God averted. (4) This verse, cited from Psalm 22, must be read in the light of 27:43, also drawn from Psalm 22 (as we have seen). The mockers cry, “He trusts in God”—meaning, of course, with their sarcastic attempts at irony, precisely the opposite. Jesus’ ostentatious trusting of his Father must be dismissed as a failure or a joke, for look where it has gotten him! But once again, Matthew perceives a deeper irony: Jesus does trust in God, in precisely the same way, though doubtless at a deeper level, than David trusted in God, yet cried out in abandonment. Trusting God and being abandoned are not mutually exclusive—not in David’s experience, and not in Jesus’ experience. Jerome H. Neyrey (Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1998], 152–61) shows that this cry is, in this sense, a true prayer, a mark of piety, cried precisely because Jesus is in the same profound way abandoned, which was God’s purpose all along, as Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane attest. God’s answer to this cry of desolation, then, is in the utter vindication of vv. 51–54.

In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Yea, once, Immanuel’s orphaned cry his universe hath shaken—

It went up single, echoless, “My God, I am forsaken!”

It went up from the Holy’s lips amid his lost creation,

That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!

Browning wrote these lines, of course, as part of her homage to William Cowper. For all his brilliance, Cowper suffered several rounds of suicidal depression. Browning powerfully asserts that Jesus cried, “My God, I am forsaken!” so that for all eternity William Cowper would not have to. Jesus cried, “My God, I am forsaken!” so that for all eternity Don Carson would not have to—“That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!”[2]


27:45–46. Jesus endured this suffering and abuse for three hours, from 9 a.m. until noon. Then, at noon an even worse torture fell upon Jesus. The Father turned his back on his own Son. The perfect communion of eternity past (cf. Matt. 11:27) was broken. The Father, in essence, had to say, “I do not know you” to the Son (cf. 7:23; 25:12). The king had been betrayed and denied by Judas and all the rest of his friends, by the shepherds of his people, and by the Roman authorities. Now he was left alone by his own Father. At that point he began to bear the hell (separation from God) of punishment for a world of sins.

This three-hour period was so black that creation itself became dark as well. From noon to 3 p.m., normally the brightest and hottest time of day, darkness covered the land. Creation mourned its Creator’s spiritual death (separation from his Father) and turned its back on the One the Father now turned away from because of the sin he became.

God directed Matthew to give the reader the exact words Jesus spoke, in the Aramaic language of his family and his people. Matthew wanted the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross to be clear. That significance was revealed in these Aramaic words, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? For the sake of his Greek readers, Matthew provided the Greek translation, which means (in English), My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The Messiah was completely alone, bearing the guilt of all sinners. It was an indescribable abandonment.

At about 3 p.m., near the end of the three hours of darkness, Jesus cried out these words—the desperate cry of an abandoned Son to his Father. Still, he remained the sovereign king, as evidenced by the fact that he remained on the cross. The words of Jesus’ cry came from Psalm 22:1, echoing the desperate words of his forefather David. But the note of triumph and vindication at the end of the psalm (Ps. 22:25–31) would not come for Jesus until Sunday morning.[3]


46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

that is

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

The link between the darkness and the cry is very close: the first is a symbol of the agonizing content of the second. This, then, is the fourth word from the cross, the very first one reported by Matthew and Mark. It issued from the mouth of the Savior shortly before he breathed his last.

In the Gospels what happened between twelve o’clock and three o’clock is a blank. All we know is that during these three hours of intense darkness Jesus suffered indescribable agonies. He was being “made sin” for us (2 Cor. 5:21), “a curse” (Gal. 3:13). He was being “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” Jehovah was laying on him “the iniquity of us all,” etc. (Isa. 53).

To be sure, this happened throughout the period of his humiliation, from conception to death and burial, but especially in Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha.

The question has been asked, “But how could God forsake God?” The answer must be that God the Father deserted his Son’s human nature, and even this in a limited, though very real and agonizing, sense. The meaning cannot be that there was ever a time when God the Father stopped loving his Son. Nor can it mean that the Son ever rejected his Father. Far from it. He kept on calling him “My God, my God.” And for that very reason we may be sure that the Father loved him as much as ever.

How, then, can we ascribe any sensible meaning to this utterance of deep distress? Perhaps an illustration may be of some help, though it should be added immediately that no analogy taken from things that happen to humans on earth can ever begin to do justice to the Son of God’s unique experience. Nevertheless, the illustration may be helpful in some slight degree. Here, let us say, is a child that is very sick. He is still too young to understand why he has to be taken to the hospital, and especially why, while there, he may have to be in the Intensive Care Unit, where his parents cannot always be with him. His parents love him as much as ever. But there may be moments when the child misses the presence of his father or mother so much that he experiences profound anguish. So also the Mediator. His soul reaches out for the One whom he calls “my God,” but his God does not answer him. Is not that exactly the manner in which the cry of agony is interpreted in the context of Ps. 22? Note:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou answerest not;

And by night, but I find no rest.”

For the Sufferer with a superbly sensitive soul this terrible isolation must have been agonizing indeed. This all the more in view of the fact that only several hours earlier he had said to his disciples, “Note well, there comes an hour—yes, it has arrived—when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me (John 16:32).” And a little later he had added, in his touchingly beautiful Highpriestly Prayer, “And now Father, glorify thou me in thine own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world existed” (John 17:5). And now the Father does not answer, but leaves him in the hands of his adversaries. Reflect again on all the abuse and the suffering Jesus had already endured this very night. Is it any wonder that he now cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” His God and Father would not have abandoned him to his tormentors if it had not been necessary. But it was necessary, in order that he might fully undergo the punishment due to his people’s sins.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 269–272). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 646–648). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 465–466). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 971–972). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MARCH 12 THE DELUSIVE GLORY OF THIS WORLD’S KINGDOMS

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

MATTHEW 4:10

The delusive quality of all human glory is taught throughout the Bible, and with bold emphasis in the New Testament. It has been taught also with great clarity by the saints and faithful brethren since the days of the apostles.

Satan once tried to bring about the downfall of Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory in them.

In presenting to the Man Jesus the glory of the world he was shrewdly taking advantage of a known weakness in the human race. The trick should have worked, and it would have worked but for one thing: This was no fallen man Satan was attempting to seduce. It was a sinless Man full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whose penetrating glance pierced the world’s attractive exterior.

Beneath its gaudy allurements He saw the corruption and the decay. He knew its glory was but bait to catch foolish victims. He knew its bright promises were all lies. Our Lord saw what other men could not see. He saw not beauty but death, a garish death that must be purchased at the price of the soul. What He saw revolted Him—He would have no part of it!

All this Jesus knew; and Satan for all his wisdom did not know that He knew it. The devil is familiar with the Bible, but still he did not know or he would not have attempted the impossible, and that to his own confusion and permanent loss of face!

Here is sufficient proof that the devil is wise—but not wise enough![1]


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

March 12 Peace: Its Ultimate Source and Manifestation

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (2:13–14). He also told the Colossians, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (1:19–20).

How did the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit on, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won.

The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.

As a Christian, you might be enduring great turmoil and strife. But in your deepest being you have peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:8). Many live in favorable circumstances, but without God they will never find peace, while those who cling to God in the worst of circumstances need never lack peace.

ASK YOURSELF

This peace that “passes all understanding”—when have you experienced that before? Recall a time when God’s peace was every bit as real as the circumstance was dire. The next time you find yourself over your head in strife and conflict, call out for His incomprehensible peace, and expect to receive it.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 80). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 12 Our Mission

God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.

2 Corinthians 5:19

God loved a lost world and sought to win sinners to Himself for His own glory. Christ came into the world out of love and sought to win sinners for the Father’s glory. As believers we also are to go to the world in love and to seek to reach the lost for the glory of God. Thus our mission is the same as God’s.

We are an extension of the ministry of God the Father and Son in receiving glory by the salvation of lost sinners. Jesus said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). “As” conveys intention. As the Father sent the Son into the unredeemed world, so the Son has sent believers. Wonder of wonders, we have the privilege of participating in Jesus Christ’s mission to a lost world![1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 85). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Four – Monday

Confession: Psalm 90:1–8

O Lord, you have been our help in all generations.

Before the mountains were born

and you brought forth the earth and the world,

even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.

You return man to the dust,

saying, “Return, O sons of man.”

For a thousand years in your eyes

are like yesterday when it passes,

or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away like a flood.

They fall asleep.

In the morning they are like grass that sprouts anew.

In the morning it blossoms and sprouts anew;

by evening it withers and dries up.

For we are brought to an end by your anger,

and we hasten off by your wrath.

You have put our iniquities before you,

our hidden sins into the light of your countenance.

Reading: Mark 13:9–13

“But you, watch out for yourselves! They will hand you over to councils and you will be beaten in the synagogues and will have to stand before governors and kings because of me, for a witness to them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations. And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you should say, but whatever is given to you at that hour, say this. For you are not the ones who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end—this one will be saved.”

Reflection

Learn the lessons of the evangelic conversation—of mastery over the body, a meek spirit, purity of mind, and destruction of pride. Pressed into the service, add to your gifts for the Lord’s sake; robbed, never go to law; hated, love; persecuted, endure; slandered, entreat. Be dead to sin; be crucified to God. Cast all your care upon the Lord, that you may be found where are tens of thousands of angels, assemblies of the firstborn, the thrones of prophets, sceptres of patriarchs, crowns of martyrs, and praises of righteous men. Earnestly desire to be numbered with those righteous men in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Basil of Caesarea

Admonition to the Young

Response

How are you being an effective witness of Jesus? On what occasions have you felt the Holy Spirit guiding your speech? Write down your prayer for the Spirit’s guidance as you tell others about Christ’s work in your life.[1]


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

March 12, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

9:31 the church … enjoyed peace, being built up. Paul’s conversion and political changes contributed to the rest. A stricter Roman governor and the expansion of Herod Agrippa’s authority restricted the persecution.[1]


9:31 the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria. There must have been hundreds of churches in the small cities and towns throughout this large region, but all of them together can be called a “church” (Gk. ekklēsia, singular in the earliest and best manuscripts of this verse, though some later manuscripts have the plural). The NT can apply the singular word “church” to the church meeting in a home (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19), in an entire city (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1), in a large region (as here), or throughout the whole world (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 5:25). Peace came to the church after the conversion of its prime persecutor (see also Gal. 1:22–24). Fear of the Lord does not mean fear of final judgment but is a common theme in Acts referring either to fear as godly awe, reverence, and devotion (as in Acts 2:43; 10:2; 13:26) or fear of God’s displeasure and fatherly discipline (as in 5:5, 11; 16:29; 19:17; see also Heb. 12:7–10).[2]


9:31 Luke (the narrator) highlights the successful beginnings of Christ’s promise to the apostles about the spread of the gospel (1:8).

peace This could refer primarily to the Church’s contentment in the face of persecution, or to their internal unity and camaraderie.

strengthened Despite persecution, the Church was growing both in number and in maturity (compare 4:4).[3]


9:31 Then the churches … had peace: This peace was not due solely to Saul’s conversion. Tiberius, the emperor of Rome, died around this time. He was replaced by Caligula, who wanted to erect a statue of himself in the temple at Jerusalem. Thus Jewish energy was directed away from persecuting Christians and toward Caligula. Here we see God’s sovereign hand at work, giving the early church a short season of respite.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ac 9:31). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2101–2102). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 9:31). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Ac 9:31). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

MARCH 12 DIVINE PURPOSE

The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.

—Isaiah 14:24

Now, I think that God first makes things orderly for utility. Whenever He made something in this universe it was because He had a purpose for it. I do not believe there is anything in the universe that just got here by accident. Everything in the universe has a meaning.

My father was philosophical about many things and I remember that he used to sit during the summertime and ponder why God made the mosquitoes. I still do not have the answer, but I am just a human being, and just because I do not have that answer, I am not going to accuse the Creator of making a cosmic blunder. I know the mosquito is not a blunder—it is just a pest. But God made it.

The same principle is true of a great many other things. I do not know why God does some things, but I am convinced that nothing is accidental in His universe. The fact that we do not know the reason behind some things is not basis enough for us to call them divine accidents. WPJ120-121

Lord, as I go about my day help me to remember that nothing happens by accident, but that everything is divinely controlled by Your eternal purpose. Amen.[1]


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

March 12 Understanding Who Christ Is

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

We are to walk as Christ walked. Our lack of conformity to His standard ought to make us humble.

What was your most humiliating experience? Life is full of embarrassing moments, but the most truly humbling experience I ever had was preaching through the Gospel of John. For two years—eighty–eight sermons, about one hundred hours of preaching, between two and three thousand hours of study—I was constantly faced with the deity of Jesus Christ. Living with the deity of Christ day after day and comparing yourself continually to Him is one of the healthiest—and most humbling—things you can ever do.

That brings us to another step toward humility: Christ–awareness. When we compare ourselves with ourselves, we get proud. But “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). When you can say, “I’m happy to announce that I now walk as Jesus walked,” then you’ll have a right to be proud. But no one will believe you.

Jesus was the perfect man. He was without sin. He gave all the right answers and had the perfect attitude for every situation. He knew exactly how to help everyone who needed help. Reading the Gospels, we see time after time how Christ handled everything perfectly.

Even seeing His humanness, we realize how small we are. But when we look at His deity, we feel still smaller. He created everything (Col. 1:16). He turned water into wine, calmed storms, cast out demons, healed countless people, and brought the dead to life. After His crucifixion, He rose from the dead and sat at the Father’s right hand (Eph. 1:19–20). Someday He will come back, take His people home, and finally destroy all evil.

Despite Jesus’ perfect deity and perfect humanity, He came to serve (Mark 10:45). How can we be proud if Jesus Christ humbled Himself? What righteous thing have we done that compares to His perfect life?

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you might know Christ better and increasingly be more like Him.

For Further Study: Peter got a glimpse of Jesus’ power in Luke 5:1–7. How did Peter’s sudden awareness of who Christ is affect him (v. 8)? ✧ What did he do next (vv. 9–11)?[1]


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

March 11 Daily Help

DEAR friends, the last song in this world, the song of triumph, shall be full of God, and of no one else. Here you praise the instrument; to-day you look on this man and on that, and you say, “Thank God for this minister, and for this man!” But in that day, forgotten shall their names be for a season, even as the stars refuse to shine when the sun himself appeareth. The song shall be unto Jehovah, and Jehovah only; “Unto him that loved us, and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood, unto him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 74). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 11, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6  In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 3:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


5–6 Several specific instructions comprise this general admonition to be faithful. The first is to trust in the Lord and not in oneself, because he grants success. In other words, the teaching is valid because God will bless it. Bāṭaḥ (“trust”; GK 1053) carries the force of relying on someone for security; the confidence is to be in the Lord and not in human understanding. Here the object of faith is what the Lord has said through the wise teaching of the father. The call is for a trust characterized by total commitment—“with all your heart,” “in all your ways.” Bînâ (“understanding”) is now cast in a sinful mode (cf. 1:2, 6), so there is to be a difference between the bînâ that wisdom brings and the natural bînâ that undermines faith.

The traditional rendering “acknowledge him” (v. 6) needs to be refined, for the expression suggests “confess him.” But the verb is “know him,” and it reflects the intimate experience of a personal relationship. The sequence of the lines may also suggest their communication of a promise: by trusting him fully you will know him. What these beautiful expressions call for is “absolute obedience and surrender in every realm of life” (Fritsch, IB, 4:799). When obedient faith is present, the Lord will guide the believer along life’s paths in spite of difficulties and hindrances. The idea of “straight” contrasts to the crooked and perverse ways of the wicked.[1]


Trust in the Lord (vv. 5–6)

Trust God entirely, ‘with all your heart’ (v. 5a). God demands an undivided commitment to himself. Too often Israel had a loyalty divided between the Lord and the false gods of the nations. We can be tempted to trust the wisdom of the world rather than rely upon divine revelation. The psalmist says, ‘I hate those who are double-minded’ (Ps. 119:113). Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters’ (Matt. 6:24a), and he taught that the greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30).

Trust God exclusively, and ‘do not lean on your own understanding’ (v. 5b). By nature we are inclined to foolishly rely upon our own inclinations and desires: ‘All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way’ (Isa. 53:6). Many people make crucial life decisions in areas such as marriage, finances, and vocation not based upon God’s revealed Word but their feelings. Proverbs tells us that our feelings are unreliable: ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (14:12); ‘he who trusts in his own heart is a fool’ (28:26a). A man may feel that he would be happier if he were to divorce his wife. A mother may not feel like using the rod of discipline on her children. In their quest to grow, churches may be tempted to resort to worldly methodologies that compromise biblical principles. The wise man does not lean on his own understanding but trusts that God’s way is best. The one who chooses his own way arrogantly claims that he knows better than God.

Proverbs also warns us against being improperly influenced by other people: ‘The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted’ (29:25). We must evaluate the counsel and influence of friends, family members, and worldly experts against the Word of God, and we must have the courage to risk their disapproval when Scripture directs us otherwise. The command to trust God also brings to mind the way of salvation. Conversion takes place when we repent of trusting in our own goodness and wisdom and put our faith in what God has done for us in Christ (Eph. 2:8–9).

Trust God extensively: ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him’ (v. 6a). We are not merely to acknowledge God’s lordship over our religious life; we are to bring God’s truth to bear on every aspect of life. We trust him in how we run our families, our education, our careers, our finances, and our friendships. He is Lord of all! Abraham Kuyper said, ‘In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, “That is mine!” ’ The wise person is characterized by continuous contemplation of God and a ready observance of his will, not only in the great issues of life but also in day-to-day routine. No matter is too small for God’s attention. To paraphrase one commentator, it is self-idolatry to think we can carry on even the most ordinary matters without his counsel.8God blesses those who trust him: ‘He will make your paths straight’ (v. 6b). The person who trusts God entirely, exclusively, and extensively will enjoy success in life.[2]


3:5–6 / The command to trust in the Lord is expressed positively and negatively (it is foolish to trust in oneself; cf. 26:5, 12; 28:26a). The motive in 6b is the assurance of divine direction in life.[3]


3:5 First, there must be a full commitment of ourselves—spirit, soul, and body—to the Lord. We must trust Him not only for the salvation of our souls but also for the direction of our lives. It must be a commitment without reserve.

Next, there must be a healthy distrust of self, an acknowledgment that we do not know what is best for us, that we are not capable of guiding ourselves. Jeremiah expressed it pointedly: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).

3:6 Finally, there must be an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ: “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” Every area of our lives must be turned over to His control. We must have no will of our own, only a single pure desire to know His will and to do it.

If these conditions are met, the promise is that God shall direct our paths. He may do it through the Bible, through the advice of godly Christians, through the marvelous converging of circumstances, through the inward peace of the Spirit, or through a combination of these. But if we wait, He will make the guidance so clear that to refuse would be positive disobedience.[4]


3:5, 6 The words trust in the Lord echo the command of Deut. 6:5 to love God with all our being. The verb trust is complemented by the verb “lean.” Trusting in God is a conscious dependence on God, much like leaning on a tree for support. The idea is reinforced here by the command to acknowledge Him, which means to observe Him and get to know Him in the process of living. In doing so, a person finds time and time again that God smoothes out paths.[5]


3:5–6. To trust in the Lord wholeheartedly means one should not rely (lean) on his understanding, for human insights are never enough. God’s ways are incomprehensible (Isa. 55:8–9; Rom. 11:33–34); yet He is trustworthy. All the wisdom a person may acquire can never replace the need for full trust in God’s superior ways. Heart in Hebrew refers to one’s emotions (Prov. 12:25; 13:12; 14:10, 13) but more often to his intellect (such as understanding, 10:8; discernment, 15:14; reflection, 15:28), or will (5:12).

As a person trusts in the Lord and acknowledges Him (this is not a nod of recognition but an intimate knowledge of God) in all his ways (cf. all your heart, 3:5), he finds that God makes his paths straight. This means more than guidance; it means God removes the obstacles, making a smooth path or way of life, or perhaps better, bringing one to the appointed goal. (On ways and paths, cf. v. 17 and see comments on 2:13, 15.) Proverbs teaches that those who follow wisdom have an easier, less problematic life (e.g., 3:10, 16, 24–25).[6]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 64–65). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (pp. 59–61). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 23). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 798). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 748–749). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 911). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.