Daily Archives: March 13, 2018

March 13: Nostalgia: My Old Friend

Numbers 14:1–45; John 19:17–42; Psalm 14:1–15:5

Regret and nostalgia can destroy lives. They are mirrored ideas with the same pitfalls: neither can change the past, and both keep us from living in the present. When we live wishfully rather than interacting with the present, we’re bound to miss out and hurt others. Since other people don’t necessarily share our feelings about the past, they feel less important to us here and now. And indeed, we’re making them less important. We’re concerned instead with how things could have been or used to be.

This is precisely what happens after the Israelites flee Egypt: “Then all the community lifted up their voices, and the people wept during that night. And all the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and all the community said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt or in this desert!’ ” (Num 14:1–2).

As usual with regret and nostalgia, these words were said in frustration but born out of fear: “Why did Yahweh bring us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little children will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt” (Num 14:3).

And their fear even takes them to the next level of disobedience against God’s will—they will overthrow Moses’ leadership: “They said to each other, ‘Let us appoint a leader, and we will return to Egypt’ ” (Num 14:4). Nostalgia is dangerous: it causes us to forget the wretchedness of the past and exchange it for fond memories. We begin to focus on the good things and drift away from obedience in the process. Regret, too, is dangerous, as we wish we had never ended the good times but kept on living the life that was never good for us to begin with.

This scene in Numbers illustrates a profound point: collective memory enables regret and nostalgia to create mob rule instead of God rule.

What memories are you holding too dearly? How are they holding you back from the life God has for you now?

John D. Barry[1]


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

March 13 Recognizing God’s Fatherhood

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

Prayer begins with the recognition that God is your Father and has the resources to meet your needs.

The term Father is one of the most commonly used terms in our prayers, and rightly so, because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray. But as common as that term is to us, it was very uncommon to the people of Christ’s day.

At that time, most of the people who worshiped false gods thought of them as distant, capricious, and immoral beings who were to be feared. Even the Jewish people, who should have understood the Fatherhood of God, had removed themselves from His Fatherly care through their sin and apostasy. Consequently He seemed remote to them. Even some who did claim God as their Father were rebuked by Christ, who called them children of the Devil because they rejected the Son (John 8:44).

Against that backdrop, Christ’s teaching was revolutionary. He proclaimed God as a caring and gracious Father who desires intimate fellowship with His children. That fellowship can come only through faith in the Son.

Beyond that, Jesus revealed the Father’s character in everything He said and did. When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus also proclaimed God as a Father who has all the treasures of Heaven at His disposal and who makes them available to His children so they might glorify Him: “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. … Do not be anxious. … But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all [you need] shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:8, 31, 33).

Your faith in Christ is what makes God your Heavenly Father. He loves you, listens to your prayers, and supplies your needs according to His abundant resources. Look to Him today, and live as a thankful, obedient child.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that He is your gracious and loving Father. ✧ Praise Him for the abundant blessings He gives to you.

For Further Study: Read Proverbs 3:5–6 and Matthew 7:7–11. ✧ What are you exhorted to do? ✧ What specifically will God do for you? ✧ How should those passages affect your relationship with God?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 85). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 13 THE IMAGE WE PROJECT

O come, let us worship and bow down…For he is our God.

Psalm 95:6–7

Are we presently missing important elements of worship in our churches? I speak of the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves as we worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must ask the question, even though we are building great churches and large congregations. We are boasting about high standards and talking about revival. But as evangelical Christian believers, are we as concerned as we should be about the image we really project to the community around us? It cannot be denied that many who profess the name of Christ still fail to show forth His love and compassion!

It should say something to us that the often-quoted Jean Paul Sartre described his turning to philosophy and hopelessness as a turning away from a secularistic church.

His indictment: “I did not recognize in the fashionable God who was taught me, Him who was waiting for my soul. I needed a creator: I was given a big businessman!”

O Lord, convict me by Your Holy Spirit if I am projecting a false impression of You to others. Express Your love and compassion through me so that others will be attracted to You.[1]


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

March 13, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was ousted Tuesday after a turbulent tenure with President Donald Trump, blindsiding the former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO just hours after he returned from a nearly week-long trip to Africa. “I am proud to nominate the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, to be our new Secretary of State.” Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel will succeed Pompeo, becoming the first woman to lead the agency.

President Trump on Tuesday will showcase eight wall prototypes constructed in the desert south of San Diego as he fights to overcome resistance from Democrats and skepticism from some Republican lawmakers over the cost of a barrier that was a central promise of his presidential campaign. The White House has requested $18 billion for the project.

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats pledged to ban religious schools in an effort to combat segregation, as it outlines its education policy ahead of this year’s general election.

A bomb struck a convoy carrying the Palestinian premier as it entered Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the latest setback to a months-old reconciliation effort supposed to heal factional rifts.

A Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that aims to reduce the kingdom’s dependency on oil has engaged a top K Street firm to lobby for approval of future acquisitions in the U.S., according to a March 8 filing with the Justice Department.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joined the British government in saying the poison used in an attack on a former Russian spy in the U.K. clearly came from Russia, calling the episode an “egregious act” that will trigger a U.S. response.

Amazon.com, Inc. is on track to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization by 2022. That would be a 29 percent jump from Monday’s valuation of $773.8 billion, already greater than the combined market value of Walmart and Alibaba Group Holding the next two biggest retailers.

U.S. consumer prices continued to firm in February, indicating inflation is creeping up toward the Federal Reserve’s target without the kind of breakout that would warrant a faster pace of interest-rate hikes.

Australia is standing firm amid growing calls for immigration curbs, even as the U.S. and Europe succumb to rising populism. It has little choice if it’s to continue a period of record economic expansion. A flood of arrivals that’s swelled the population by 50 percent over the past three decades has underpinned economic growth and allowed a succession of governments to boast of avoiding recession since 1991. Populists are blaming immigrants for over-burdened infrastructure, soaring housing prices and low wage growth.

Small businesses in the U.S. were the most optimistic in more than three decades as recent tax cuts and economic growth spurred expectations for sales gains, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey released Tuesday.

AP Top Stories

At least 49 people were killed on Monday when a Bangladeshi airliner crashed in cloudy weather as it came in to land at the Nepalese capital’s hill-ringed airport.

After driving nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country, Myanmar’s military is building bases where some of their homes and mosques once stood, Amnesty International said on Monday, citing new evidence from satellite imagery.

A third explosion has been linked to two other deadly attacks at homes in Texas this month, where police are warning residents not to touch any unexpected boxes that end up on their door steps.

Vladimir Putin, who is set to extend his long rule to 2024 in Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, has stamped his total authority in Russia, silencing opposition and reasserting Moscow’s lost might abroad.

As countries race to militarize and exploit the Arctic, two U.S. Navy fast-attack submarines have arrived in the Arctic Ocean for a five-week biennial exercise, called ICEX 2018.

German prosecutors said Monday they were notified that a former Nazi death camp guard dubbed the “Accountant of Auschwitz” died before he could begin serving his 4-year sentence.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a South Korean representative on Tuesday he wants talks with North Korea, called to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, to resolve a dispute over past abductions of Japanese citizens as well.

A Saudi general may have been tortured to death and several wealthy businessmen were allegedly abused in captivity at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent crackdown on powerful figures in Saudi Arabia, according to a newspaper report.

Russia will apparently place a early pre-production version of its fearsome RS-28 Sarmat liquid-fueled heavy intercontinental ballistic missile on duty before the weapon enters series production. The massive new ICBM recently started testing and will eventually replace Russia’s existing arsenal of RS-36M2 Voevoda (NATO: SS-18 Satan) missiles.

BBC

The Argentine navy has rescued four US scientists and a contractor from an Antarctic camp after the US icebreaker due to pick them up could not reach them because of thick sea-ice.

The Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia.

Thirty-eight people have died in Ethiopia after the bus they were travelling in plunged off a cliff.

WND

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.

Three illegal aliens in Illinois were indicted on felony charges for voting in the 2016 election. The clerk’s office of Lake County, north of Chicago, discovered the alleged crimes, charging three illegal aliens with perjury for misrepresenting their citizenship. Two other local residents were charged with voting twice, the Chicago Tribune reported.


The Briefing — Tuesday, March 13, 2018

1) Why the loss of frozen embryos is a tragedy infinitely greater than many American’s realize

2) Surrogate pregnancies and frozen embryos pose new ethical questions

3) Has the normalization of marijuana become a matter of social justice?


News – 3/13/2018

Trump Fires Rex Tillerson; Replaces Him With CIA Chief Mike Pompeo

According to WaPo, the president — who has long clashed will Tillerson, who he believes is “too establishment” in his thinking — felt it was important to make the change now, as he prepares for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as upcoming trade negotiations, three White House officials said.

Report: Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan is Almost Finished

According to senior American officials who spoke to The New York Times, the Trump White House is currently putting the final touches on its Middle East peace proposal. Unlike past proposals from presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump’s plan will reportedly eschew broad (read: vague) suggestions and predetermined outcomes. Rather, it will take head-on the very specific issues currently preventing an agreement and offer very specific solutions to them.

Uh-oh. A.I. is actually hallucinating

A new report at Wired is raising the specter of a huge problem that has appeared in Artificial Intelligence programs and projects. It hallucinates. The systems, according to the report, can see things that aren’t there. “That could be a big problem for products dependent on machine learning, particularly for vision, such as self-driving cars. Leading researchers are trying to develop defenses against such attacks – but that’s proving to be a challenge,”

House intel panel concludes: No collusion with Russia

Amid an expansion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, House Intelligence Committee Republicans announced they have finished the interview phase of their own probe and have found no evidence Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

ISIS’s new insurgency in Kirkuk and Hawija in Iraq

Dozens of civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces have been killed along with a similar number of ISIS fighters, according to numerous reports. The US-led coalition is still carrying out air strikes against ISIS targets, even though the country was supposed to have transitioned to stabilization in the run-up to elections in May.

Hamas condemns assassination attempt on Palestinian Prime Minister

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Services Chief Majid Faraj survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday after entering the Gaza Strip, the official PA news site Wafa reported. Hamdallah and Faraj’s motorcade was targeted by an explosion and came under gunfire in the Beit Hanoun area in northern Gaza, according to the Wafa report.

Third Temple Calendar Launches This Saturday, On The ‘New Year Of Kings’

As part of his passion for the Temple, Prager decided 36 years ago that he wanted to create a calendar for the Third Temple. But the project was so complicated and requires so much research that the first calendar is only coming out now. The King’s Calendar tracks all the activities that took place in the First and Second Temples and which will be performed again when the Third Temple is built.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Ideas Do

That does not mean that we ought to push the 1st Amendment under the train, the way that the media has been trying to do to the 2nd Amendment, but it does call for soul-searching and responsibility not by the people who make guns or defend the right to carry them, as the media insists, but by the people who make school shootings and subway suicides. The people who insist that everyone must search their souls, but them.

Abbas: Hamas responsible for assassination attempt on Prime Minister

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Services Chief Majid Faraj survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday after entering the Gaza Strip, the official PA news site Wafa reported. Hamdallah and Faraj’s motorcade was targeted by an explosion and came under gunfire in the Beit Hanoun area in northern Gaza, according to the Wafa report.

With Red Sea mega-city, Saudis eye economic unity with Egypt, Jordan

To observers, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud’s flagship idea may seem overly ambitious – to build a mega-city known as Neom along the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea that extends across the borders to Jordan and Egypt. Indeed, its proponents are describing the planned 26,500 square kilometer city in almost messianic terms.

Kushner and Greenblatt to host session on Gaza crisis

The Trump administration will host a “brainstorming session” at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. According to Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, the administration “believes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza require immediate attention.”

Afrin: Turkish forces ‘encircle’ Syrian Kurdish city

The Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia. A statement said troops and allied Syrian rebels had also captured “critically important areas”. Kurdish sources said all roads into Afrin were being targeted by shellfire, but denied that it was encircled.

Saudi crown prince to visit White House on March 20

US President Donald Trump will host Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 20, the White House said Monday. “The president looks forward to discussing ways to strengthen ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in announcing the meeting. The hugely influential Saudi prince is visiting Egypt, Britain and the United States as part of a long foreign trip, his first as crown prince.

Police link two deadly package bombs in Austin, Texas, to earlier attack

Two package bombs left outside homes in Austin, Texas, exploded on Monday, killing a teenager and injuring two women in attacks that police linked to a deadly blast earlier this month. The latest bombings came as the Texas capital hosted its annual South by Southwest music, technology and film festival downtown. The victims in all three cases were African-American or Hispanic, and police said they were examining the attacks as possible hate crimes.

Spring Break is on as tens of thousands descend on beaches for debauchery

The scene was one of ‘controlled chaos’: hundreds of students openly smoking drugs, shot-gunning beer and performing lewd dance moves as the first weekend of Spring Break got underway on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Beach. Others could be seen swigging from bottles of vodka and whiskey or guzzling tequila hidden in water pistols while some had to be helped off the sand after becoming too drunk to stand.

Beaver County Sees Uptick In STD Numbers Among Young People

The numbers are hard to comprehend in this time of social media, advanced medicine and awareness. “I think that the younger population is more promiscuous today than probably ever before,” says Dr. Frank DiCenco…Dr. DiCenco says the numbers in a state health department alert about STD’s and HIV among 15-24 year olds in Beaver County are “quite concerning and we, in our practice, have seen an uptick in the number of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia cases.”

Opioid Crisis Drives Up Illinois ER Visits by 66 Percent

According to a new report, the opioid crisis in Illinois has driven up emergency room visits by 66 percent.

3 Package Bombs in Austin Kill 2

Police in Austin Texas said they believe three package bombs in the past 11 days are related and are warning residents not to touch any packages they were not expecting.

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.

Obama Cronies Form Anti-Trump National Security Think Tank

A group of nearly 50 Obama administration officials have formed a think tank called National Security Action to attack President Trump’s national security platform.

Expert: Erdogan Regime Considers Christians, Jews ‘Enemies of the State’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian government has deemed members of religious minorities, such as Christians and Jews, “enemies of the state,” an analyst tells Breitbart News, echoing the U.S. State Department.

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

Vice President Pence predicted Tuesday that legal abortion would end in the U.S. “in our time.” “I know in my heart of hearts this will be the generation that restores life in America,” Pence said at a luncheon in Nashville hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institute, an anti-abortion organization.

Merck Will Give Young Mothers The Most Dangerous Vaccine Of All: Trial

The University of Alabama at Birmingham recently announced a collaboration with pharmaceutical behemoth vaccine producer Merck, to perform Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine trials on postpartum mothers between the ages of 16 and 26, immediately after having their children at the UAB hospital.

Record-Breaking Crowd of 100,000 Pro-Life People Rally in Ireland Against Legalizing Abortion

Save the 8th has said that its campaign is “energised and motivated ” by the huge attendance at today’s Rally for Life in Dublin, which saw up to 100,000 people take to the streets to reject the Government’s plan for a UK-style abortion regime in Ireland.

Church of Scientology Readies to Launch a TV Network

The Church of Scientology is about to get its own television channel starting Monday. A Twitter handle, website and app for Scientology TV appeared Sunday posting updates to hype the network’s availability on DIRECTV, AppleTV, Roku, fireTV, Chromecast, iTunes and Google Play.

House Sets Vote on Bill Allowing Use of Unproven Drugs for Dying Patients

Legislation that would enable terminally ill patients to use unproven, investigational drugs will go before the House Tuesday for a vote,according to The Hill.


RenewAmerica Newsletter

March 12, 2018
ALAN KEYES — The Florida Legislature moved forward with a bill last week “that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers.” The measure also includes a provision to “raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21.” At least one Florida lawmaker has rejected that age provision as unconstitutional…. (more)

March 12, 2018
Book review
JOAN SWIRSKY — The word Politicide was first coined by Abba Eban – Israel’s foreign minister in 1967 – to describe the attempted murder of the sovereign, independent State of Israel by enemies both within and outside of the fledgling state. When Victor Sharpe first read the word, he told me how it resonated in “the deepest parts of my heart and soul.”… (more)

March 12, 2018

THE HILL — The House Intelligence Committee is shutting down its contentious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the top Republican leading the probe announced on Monday…. (more)


March 12, 2018
NEWSBUSTERS — On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee closed its inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, much to the chagrin of the liberal media. The committee confirmed that the Russians were indeed trying to cause chaos in the election, claimed they weren’t out to help candidate Donald Trump specifically and that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But during their evening broadcasts, ABC and CBS downplayed the findings while NBC ignored them…. (more)

March 12, 2018
NEWSMAX — Conservative economist Larry Kudlow is the front-runner to replace Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, CNBC’s Jim Cramer reports…. (more)

March 12, 2018

NEWSMAX — The White House on Sunday pledged to help states pay for firearms training for teachers and reiterated its call to improve the background check system as part of a new plan to prevent school shootings. But in a move sure to please the gun lobby, the plan does not include a push to increase the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21, which President Donald Trump had repeatedly championed…. (more)


March 12, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Democrats have marked the first year of the House’s investigation into Russian election meddling by promoting conspiracy tales in the Christopher Steele dossier and leaking to the press more than two dozen stories, some of which Republicans contend were way off base…. (more)

March 12, 2018
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Former intelligence chief James Clapper is poised to avoid charges for allegedly lying to Congress after five years of apparent inaction by the Justice Department…. (more)

March 11, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — A Russian billionaire writes that George Soros, a major financier of liberal causes, is funding Fusion GPS, the firm that orchestrated the Christopher Steele dossier. If true, it is possible that Fusion GPS’s ongoing anti-Trump investigations have not only been funded by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign, but also by currency trader Soros. He recently pledged $18 billion to a cast of liberal groups and causes…. (more)

March 11, 2018
NATIONAL REVIEW — Internal radio-dispatch recordings released Thursday contradict the narrative advanced by the Broward County sheriff’s deputy who sheltered in place rather than trying to stop the massacre occurring inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the face of widespread criticism, Deputy Scot Peterson publicly insisted that he believed the mass shooting, which claimed 17 lives on February 14, was taking place outside on the athletic fields surrounding the school…. (more)

March 11, 2018
BYRON YORK — It’s become a hot topic in coverage of the Trump-Russia investigation: A Trump supporter met with a Russian in the Seychelles in January 2017, and something consequential may or may not have happened. The Trump supporter was Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL best known as the founder of Blackwater, the security firm that helped guard U.S. forces and installations in Iraq…. (more)

March 11, 2018
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — ‘What’s good for the goose . . .” is more an understandable impulse than a useful rule of thumb in legal controversies, particularly legal controversies in which an error has been made. The White House and congressional Republicans have watched in ire as the Trump administration has been tied in knots by the no-boundaries Mueller investigation. “Okay,” they’re thinking, “now, it’s payback time.”… (more)

March 10, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The National Rifle Association filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Florida over its new law making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy a rifle. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott had signed the bill into law earlier that day, raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. “We filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the constitutional rights of 18 to 21 year olds,” Marion Hammer, a NRA lobbyist in Florida, told The Tallahassee Democrat…. (more)

March 10, 2018
NEWSMAX — China’s on track to contain the world’s largest Christian population thanks to a surge in underground house churches and state-sanction places of worship, according to the Council of Foreign Relations. In a background document titled “Christianity in China,” the CFR estimates of the number of Protestants at anywhere from 58 million to 115 million and higher – – though fewer than 30 million attend officially registered churches…. (more)

March 10, 2018

NEWSMAX — Mitt Romney is shaking hands, posing for pictures and cracking jokes as he barnstorms Utah seeking votes for his Senate bid. What he isn’t doing is talking about his well-documented feuds with President Trump. Wearing blue jeans and flashing his famous smile, Romney strode into a gymnasium lined with elk antlers and rifles to greet a group of sportsmen not far from the Bears Ears National Monument, downsized recently by the Trump administration…. (more)


March 8, 2018
NEW YORK POST — President Trump has agreed to sit down with his North Korean nemesis Kim Jong-Un sometime in the next two months to discuss stripping the hermit nation of its nuclear arsenal, it was announced Thursday…. (more)

March 8, 2018
GREG COROMBOS — Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says North Korea has no intention of scrapping its nuclear program, it’s trying to sucker the United States into relaxing sanctions, and it’s now just months away from being able to deploy nuclear weapons capable of reaching any point in the United States…. (more)

March 8, 2018
ART MOORE — A lengthy, glowing New Yorker magazine profile on the anti-Trump “dossier” author, Christopher Steele, reported the former MI6 agent knew that his work was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee…. (more)

March 8, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — Mitt Romney is being hit with the first attack ad of the Utah Senate race Thursday, a slickly produced video that portrays him as a darling of the D.C. establishment and gives him the nickname “flip-flopper Mitt.” The ad from Republican candidate Larry Meyers slams Mr. Romney, the presumptive front-runner in the GOP race, with accusations of not being conservative enough for Utah voters…. (more)


March 8, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday that documents related to the failed Fast and Furious federal gun-running program that former Attorney General Eric Holder kept hidden are going to be released…. (more)

March 8, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Border Patrol says it’s been forced to release a drunken driver back onto the streets, and nearly missed out on nabbing a fake UPS delivery van carrying 77 illegal immigrants – – all because California’s new sanctuary city laws have soured cooperation between police and federal authorities…. (more)

March 8, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Progressives who have never quite cut the cord with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan despite his anti-Semitic rants are suddenly paying the price, starting with the Women’s March leaders. Calls for Women’s March president Tamika D. Mallory to resign erupted after she attended a Feb. 25 speech in Chicago at which Mr. Farrakhan railed against “the Satanic Jew,” saying “powerful Jews are my enemy” while singling her out for recognition…. (more)

March 8, 2018
NEWSMAX — The FBI has detailed to Congress a series of mistakes and missed opportunities to intervene before a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last month. FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich made the comments in a closed briefing Tuesday with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees…. (more)

March 8, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — If Florida Gov. Rick Scott has a reputation for anything, it’s keeping a cool head in a crisis. How he is navigating the latest may help determine whether he wins a new job in November. In the aftermath of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Mr. Scott has begun drawing fine lines between himself and more unyielding positions of powerful groups…. (more)

March 8, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — Clinical psychologist and professor Jordan B. Peterson’s critics catapulted him into the news again this week with Queen’s University protests and the ominous threat, “Lock em in and burn it down.” The Amazon bestselling author of “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” has a chapter titled “Assume That The Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don’t.” Canadian students decided on Monday night that it might be preferable to assault or kill their guest speaker – – and his audience – – instead…. (more)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 13

  • Trump ousts Rex Tillerson as secretary of state (Read More)
  • Stock futures jump after data dims fears of inflation overheating (Read More)
  • Bond Market’s Most Feared Traders Threaten Treasuries Once Again (Read More)
  • Russian military says will respond if U.S. strikes Syria (Read More)
  • Murder and Protests Rock a Small European Nation (Read More)
  • A Sea Change Is Underway in Money Markets (Read More)
  • Roger Stone claimed contact with WikiLeaks’s founder in 2016, two associates say (Read More)
  • New York financier Lynn Tilton puts her Zohar funds into bankruptcy (Read More)
  • Kushner Companies’ Brooklyn Sale Linked to Japanese Government (BBG)
  • Microsoft women filed 238 discrimination and harassment complaints: court documents (Read More)
  • China Central Bank Gains More Power in Xi’s Regulatory Shift (Read More)
  • Saudi Aramco international listing looks increasingly difficult (Read More)
  • Havens Just Aren’t Safe Anymore, Goldman Says (Read More)
  • VW Just Gave Tesla a $25 Billion Battery Shock (Read More)
  • South Dakota urges Supreme Court to click ‘buy’ on internet sales tax (Read More)
  • New Boeing jet to accelerate services shake-up (Read More)

Headlines – 3/13/2018

Nearly finished US peace plan won’t call for two-state solution – report

Abbas to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah on ‘nearly finished’ US peace plan

White House to meet on Gaza crisis Tuesday, as it prepares to unveil peace plan

PA prime minister to visit Gaza on Tuesday

Hamas calls to resume suicide bombings

Netanyahu to meet Liberman as coalition hangs in balance

Addressing coalition crisis over draft law, Bennett slams ‘fake leadership’

In Jerusalem’s Old City, futuristic hi-tech illuminates ancient biblical past

Israel’s as secure as it’s ever been but that can change quickly, new book warns

Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East

U.S. Warns United Nations: If You Don’t Act On Syria, We Will

Macron: France will strike Syria chemical arms sites if used to kill

Russian agencies say Syrian army found rebel chemical weapons workshop in Ghouta

Syrian jets hit south in first attacks since truce, rebels say

UN chief: Syria fighting worsened after truce

Russia calls for renewed truce efforts in Syria

Over 500,000 dead in seven years of Syrian war, monitor says

Sex for food: With nowhere else to turn, women of Syria’s Aleppo face exploitation by aid workers

‘Our Lions Have Infiltrated’: ISIS Video Depicts Future Caliphate Located in the West

Duterte goes to war with UN as he threatens to throw rights team to the crocodiles

US urges UN to keep North Korea sanctions until ‘real progress’ in talks

Eighteen years in power, Putin’s grip on Russia looks stronger than ever

Putin: UK should ‘get to bottom’ of spy attack then we’ll talk

Poisoning of Russian Ex-Spy Is ‘Almost Beyond Comprehension,’ Tillerson Says

Tillerson: US ‘outraged’ by poisoning of ex-spy that ‘clearly came from Russia’

Americans see Putin as clear danger, want Trump to do ‘much more’

House Intel finds ‘no evidence of collusion’ between Trump campaign and Russia

Republicans Are Ending House Russia Probe Over Democrats’ Objections

Mueller invokes unusual ‘conspiracy to defraud government’ charge to ensnare more targets

‘He Has An Affinity for Dictators’: Clinton Rips Trump, Says ‘Pressures’ Caused White Women to Vote for Him

Austin, Texas, on edge after spate of package bombs kills two

Texas package bombs probed as possible hate crimes

Expert warns of “terrifying” potential of digitally-altered video

Elon Musk Warns First Travelers to Mars: ‘Good Chance You’ll Die’

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Mid-Indian Ridge

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Kirishimayama volcano on Japan erupts to 14,000ft

The third nor’easter in less than two weeks is on the horizon

Schwarzenegger to Sue Big Oil for ‘First Degree Murder’

Indiana college newspaper blames Florida school shooting on ‘toxic masculinity’

College student kicked out of class for telling professor there are only two genders

Kansas GOP’s Vote Against Transgender People Part of ‘Concerning’ and ‘Unacceptable’ Trend

Jewish woman’s same-sex wedding takes the spotlight in Brazil

Stormy Daniels offers to pay back $130,000 for freedom to speak about Trump

Possible Justice Kennedy retirement would give Trump opportunity to tilt Supreme Court to right

Tony Perkins: Religious Freedom Restoration Under Trump Will End If Evangelicals Don’t Vote Republican

DEVELOPING: NASA warns massive Solar Storm could cause power outages

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 10:27 AM PDT

DEVELOPING: NASA warns massive Solar Storm could cause power outagesA solar storm is Earth-bound and scientists have warned the storm could wipe out power and trigger the Northern Lights in parts of the UK in a wave of geomagnetic activity. An enormous explosion on the surface of the Sun blasted an array of solar particles Earth’s way and the storm will hit tomorrow. Scientists have warned the storm could wipe out satellites, GPS navigation systems and mobile phone signals.

The solar storm will hit the northern hemisphere, which could lead to the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, being seen as far south as the upper reaches of Scotland. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who spotted the solar storm using two NASA satellites, said: “A minor geomagnetic storm watch is now in effect for the 14 and 15 March, 2018. Aurora may be visible at high latitudes.” READ MORE

Hundreds Of U.S. Marines and IDF carry out dills in Israel, Largest operation in 6 years

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 10:13 AM PDT

Hundreds Of U.S. Marines and IDF carry out dills in Israel, Largest operation in 6 yearsHundreds of Israeli soldiers and US Marines trained shoulder-to-shoulder Monday in southern Israel as part of Juniper Cobra 2018, drilling on close urban combat and tunnel warfare.  While the two-week-long joint Israeli/American military exercise drills on various scenarios adapted to Israel’s operational reality such as missile threats in various sectors simultaneously, the Marines have not directly participated in the missile drills which comprised the majority of Juniper Cobra. Instead the

650 Marines trained with Israeli troops at the Tzehelim army base in several operational scenarios, including live fire and artillery drills, in order to enhance interoperability and cooperation between the two allies. Calling the training with the Israelis “incredible,” Lt. Col. Marcus Mainz, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, told reporters that this year’s Juniper Cobra is the largest that the Marine Corps and navy have participated in for the last six years.  READ MORE

Muslim Radical-Turned-Christian Shares How God Saved Him From Jihad

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 06:30 AM PDT

Muslim Radical-Turned-Christian Shares How God Saved Him From JihadJay says it’s a “miracle” that he came to faith in Christ.  Having grown up in a well-to-do fundamental Muslim family in Afghanistan and at one point in his life even thinking about joining a terrorist group, he could have never imagined the way that he’d be rescued from the suicidal depression he faced after he abandoned Islam. Jay (not his real name) told The Christian Post in a phone interview last week

that there was a point in his life that he would inwardly glorify deadly terrorist attacks in the name of Islam as they happened around the world and even considered doing his own “jihad” after being indoctrinated online. The 30-year-old who came to the U.K. in 2001 as a 15-year-old asylum-seeker fleeing the Taliban and United States retaliation to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, explained that he grew up to become the very thing that he told the U.K. government that he escaped from. READ MORE

College Student Banned From Religious Studies Class After Saying There Are Only 2 Genders

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 06:27 AM PDT

College Student Banned From Religious Studies Class After Saying There Are Only 2 GendersA student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania claims that he has been barred from a religious studies class he needs to graduate this May and asked to apologize after voicing his belief that there are only two biological genders.  Last week, IUP student Lake Ingle took to his Facebook page to let his disbelief be known. He is being punished, he wrote, by the university for his response after the professor of his class on “self, sin and salvation” showed a TED Talks video featuring transgender woman Paula Stone Williams. Ingle detailed his “best and fairest” account of the incident that transpired after Dr. Alison

Downie showed the video to the class on Feb. 28, in a now-deleted Facebook post. “On Wednesday, February 28th, in one of my major-required courses, the instructor played a ‘Ted-Talk’ during which a transgender woman discussed her previous experiences of manhood as well as her current experiences of womanhood,” Ingle wrote. “During her speech, she gave accounts of things such as ‘mansplaining’, ‘male-privilege’, and ‘sexism’ and deemed them systemic. She also alluded to the REALITY of the gender wage gap, stating women ‘…work twice as hard for half as much.’”  READ MORE

Scientology opens their own television channel

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 06:15 AM PDT

Scientology opens their own television channelThe cult of Scientology has announced that they are opening their own television channel today. In a tweet from the ScientologyTV account, the group claims, “It’s time for us to tell our story” on “DIRECTV, AppleTV, Roku, fireTV, & Chromecast.”  Most likely this public outreach is being done to try and recover Scientology’s reputation after Leah Remini’s A&E docuseries “Scientology and the Aftermath” and Alex Gibney’s Emmy-winning documentary, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.”

Scientology was built by a deluded individual named L. Ron Hubbard who believed that his organization would create a utopian society, “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.” On “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” Season 2 episode 12, “Propaganda Arms,” we get a full perspective of exactly how the church of Scientology uses carefully crafted propaganda to attract new members and squeeze more money out of their existing members. READ MORE

Demon Possessed Home in Indiana makes Mainstream Media Headlines

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 06:11 AM PDT

Demon Possessed Home in Indiana makes Mainstream Media Headlines(By Nate Brown) The host of “Ghost Adventures” on the Travel Channel, Zak Bagans, is releasing a documentary that recounts the story of the Ammon’s, a Gary Indiana family who says their “Demon House” was infested with over 200 demons that caused demonic possession.  Bagans purchased the house soon after the Ammon’s photos and story made national news. During his time filming, he faced extreme demonic oppression and illness. Bagans interviewed numerous police officials, a former Department of Child Services family case manager, a priest and others.

Ammons’ description of strange occurrences involving her and her three children spurred an Indiana Department of Child Services intervention, multi-agency police investigation and a series of exorcisms that a priest claimed were the first authorized by the bishop of the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Gary. “It’s taken me a while to move past that,” said Valerie Washington, a former DCS family case manager who claimed she saw Ammon’s 9-year-old son walk backward up a wall to the ceiling before flipping over his grandmother, landing on his feet. Washington added, “I believe that it was something going on there that was out of the realm of a normal living person.” READ MORE

Your God-Given Key to Deliverance From Addiction

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 06:01 AM PDT

Your God-Given Key to Deliverance From Addiction(By Joyce Tilney) The world is full of self-help information on breaking addictions and easy ways to break a habit. A dictionary definition of “addiction” is:  “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, alcohol or food);  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”  So what is the problem?  We are educated, intelligent people. Why can’t we break an addiction? The world is full of information, but only God’s Word can bring transformation in a life. For years, I fought the battle of the bulge, riding the roller coaster of emotions that accompany this battle.

I did not understand the cravings for food that led me to poor eating habits, causing the relentless urges, short-term satisfaction and long-term guilt. The guilt brought shame, anxiety and weight gain. The consumption of a poor diet doesn’t just affect our taste buds and waistline, but over time, it will rewire our brain. Pleasure and reward, entwined with our emotions, make a powerful force that is hard to break. One day I saw five words that changed my life: “The devil wants you fat!”  Those five words brought reality to my life. This is a spiritual battle! The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). I was playing right into his hands. Life was being drained from me; spirit, soul and body, one bite at a time. CONTINUE

University Librarians Warn Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is a Form of Christian Aggression Against Muslims

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 05:58 AM PDT

University Librarians Warn Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is a Form of Christian Aggression Against MuslimsA group of librarians at Simmons College in Massachusetts have published a new “anti-oppression” guideline, which claims Christians are Islamophobic if they say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” to Muslims.  The guideline, called “Anti-oppression: Anti-Islamomisia,” says discrimination against Muslims can take place in the form of micro-aggressions. The library defines microaggressions as “commonplace verbal or behavioral indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which

communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults in relation to the beliefs and religious practices of Muslims.” These microaggressions include endorsing religious stereotypes, thinking Islamic clothes are “trendy,” believing Muslims follow the “wrong” religion or saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” to Muslims. The librarians also say Christians commit microaggressions if they deny they’re committing them, especially “if their words or behaviors may indicate otherwise.” READ MORE

Eschatology Author Joel C. Rosenberg’s Latest Book Is Once Again Eerily Prophetic

Posted: 13 Mar 2018 05:55 AM PDT

Eschatology Author Joel C. Rosenberg’s Latest Book Is Once Again Eerily PropheticNew York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg has written numerous gripping political thrillers—many of them dealing with radical Islam. But his latest book takes on a different threat to the U.S. and the West: Russia.  Rosenberg’s past efforts have turned out to be prophetic, “ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.” His latest book mirrors today’s disturbing global developments once again. With an American president distracted by growing tensions in North Korea and Iran, an ominous new threat is emerging in Moscow.

A czar is rising in the Kremlin, a Russian president feverishly consolidating power, silencing his opposition, and plotting a brazen and lightning-fast military strike that could rupture the NATO alliance and bring Washington and Moscow to the brink of nuclear war.But in his blind spot is the former Secret Service agent, Marcus Ryker, trained to protect but ready to kill to save his country. Everything he learned to protect our president, he must use to take out theirs.Rosenberg says the Russian president in his new book is not precisely meant to be Russia’s Vladimir Putin, but is “Putinesque.”  READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Series of delivered package explosions rattle Texas residents

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 10:59 AM PDT

DEVELOPING: Series of delivered package explosions rattle Texas residentsA woman in her 70s was injured in the second reported explosion at a home in Austin on Monday, Austin-Travis County EMS said. Authorities investigate an explosion at a home on Galindo Street in Southeast Austin on Monday. The incident was the second reported explosion on Monday and the third in two weeks. Photo by Austin Fire Department. Medics were sent out to the 6700 block of Galindo Street, near Montopolis and East Riverside drives in Southeast Austin at 11:49 a.m., EMS said. The

woman was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. Another woman in her 80s was being treated for an unrelated medical issue but was not being hospitalized, EMS said.  The incident marks the second reported explosion in the city on Monday and the third in two weeks. An explosion earlier in the day in the 4800 block of Oldfort Hill Drive in East Austin killed a 17-year-old and injured a woman described as in her 40s. Hours after that incident, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that explosion appeared similar and likely related to another explosion in Northeast Austin on March 2. READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: US prepared to act on Syria if UN Security Council won’t

Posted: 12 Mar 2018 10:54 AM PDT

RUMORS OF WAR: US prepared to act on Syria if UN Security Council won’tUS envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has warned that the US will take action in Syria on its own if the UN Security Council fails to do so. The official cited last year’s attack on a Syrian airbase as an example of possible US action.  “It is not the path we prefer, but it is a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again,” Haley told the UN Security Council meeting on Monday. “When the

international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.” When the Security Council “failed to act” after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident last year, the US “successfully struck the airbase from which Assad had launched his chemical attack,” Haley stated. It should be noted that the US attacked the base only three days after the incident, without any investigation into it, while the blame was promptly pinned on Damascus.  READ MORE


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The Call to Repentance and the Championing of Grace

“We’re losing the nerve to call people to repentance.”

That’s what a retired pastor recently told me, expressing his concern that while the next generation loves to champion the unconditional love and grace of God, rarely does their message include Christ’s call to repentance. Younger pastors, he said, want to meet people where they are, in whatever mess they’re in, and let the Spirit clean them up later. God will deal with their sins down the road.

But in the Gospels, Jesus seems much more extreme. His good news was the announcement of God’s kingdom, and the first word to follow? “Repent!” No wonder Jesus didn’t tell the rich young ruler to walk with Him for a while until he stopped coveting. No, He got to the root of an unrepentant heart when He said, “Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” In other words, Repent. Turn around.

“I’m cheering for the next generation,” the pastor said, “but I feel like an ogre for stressing repentance all the time.”

Maybe you feel like that pastor. You’re concerned that the evangelical church is shaving off the hard edges of the gospel. You agree with the sentiment recently expressed by Kevin DeYoung, that repentance has become the “missing word in our gospel.” And yet you are concerned that that you may appear harsh and unloving if you stress repentance. Shouldn’t we just focus on grace?

Who Separated Grace and Repentance?

Here’s where we so easily take a wrong turn. Wherever did we get the notion that the call to repentance is opposed to the championing of grace? When did truth and grace get separated? Or repentance and faith?

To think that the message of grace and the call of repentance are opposed to one another is to miss the beautiful, grace-filled nature of what repentance actually is. The call to repent is one of greatest expressions of the love of God.

Christians, We Are Repenters

During the years I spent doing mission work in Romania, I came to see myself not only as a Christian, but as a repenter – a derogatory term applied to Romanian evangelicals, but one that was embraced as an accurate description of the full Christian life. Martin Luther kicked off the Protestant Reformation by reclaiming this truth, that the whole of the Christian life is to be one of repentance.

That’s why it puzzles me whenever I hear Christians talk about repentance as if it’s a harsh word that needs to be “balanced” by grace and love. We could make the case that grace is even more scandalous and offensive. And love in action, as Dostoevsky wrote, is a harsh and fearful thing compared to love in dreams.

God’s Compassion Behind His Command

For some reason, Christians frequently pit God’s compassion over against God’s command. No, no, no. God’s compassion doesn’t do away with His command. God’s compassion is the basis for His command. God commands us to repent not because He is an angry tyrant who wants to squash our fun, but because He is a loving Father who wants our best.

Our youngest child is four. Let’s say that his idea of fun is taking toys and stuffing them into the wall outlets at home. As his father, I raise my voice and say, “Son, stop! Don’t do that again.” His four-year-old mind may wonder why I’m making such a big deal of his little game. Why is Daddy being firm? Why does he sound so mean? Why is he squelching my fun? Imagine a counselor who comes along and says, “You know, a father needs to show some compassion. You need to show grace.”

Amen to compassion and amen to grace! The question is: What form does grace take on in this situation? Would it be compassionate for a father to let his son run into danger? Would it be gracious to fail to warn a child of painful consequences? No. The father’s command—his warning and the raising of his voice—is not a failure of compassion, but the very way he demonstrates his love for his son.

The Call to Repentance as an Expression of Grace

Likewise, when we call people to repent, we are not opposing God’s grace; we are expressing it. The kindness of the Lord is behind His call to repentance.

When you read the Old Testament prophets, you see that their main message is Repent or else! But read a little closer. Their call is far from the comic strip with the long-haired prophet walking around casually with a sign, clear on the message but cold and distant to the reader. The striking aspect about the warnings we find in the prophets is how often God’s anger is expressed in a context of grieving and weeping. The angry, fiery God of judgment is the spurned Husband who wants to woo back His wayward people from the brink of destruction.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Don’t pit the call to repentance against the championing of grace. Jesus didn’t. Paul didn’t. We shouldn’t either.

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March 13, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

4  Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5  For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 30:4–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


David Calls For Others To Praise God (vv. 4–5)

Reflecting on his blessing made David realize that all of God’s people enjoy remarkable blessings from God. He, David, was not alone in this. So he should not be alone in praise.

In particular, the psalmist calls for his fellow-saints to ‘give thanks at the remembrance’ of God’s ‘holy name.’

Every blessing flows to us because God is true to his holy name. God’s name represents himself or his character. God’s character is such that he is kindly disposed towards his people. From that kind disposition, he has promised to bless them. Having made these promises, God must carry them out because, in addition to being kind, he is holy. If God did not bless his people, he would violate his holiness.

So every blessing God’s people receive is an occasion to praise God’s holy name.

The kind disposition of God is also manifested in the fact that his chastisement only lasts ‘for a moment’. God’s discipline can be so severe that we may be inclined to conclude that he does not care for us. But that is not the case. His chastisement, no matter how severe, does not negate his favour which ‘is for life’ (v. 5).[1]


30:4–5 / “Thanksgiving,” according to the Psalms, is clearly not to be a private affair between the believer and God, but is to be sung before all saints of his. This call to hymnic praise offers the congregation a general lesson that is exemplified by the worshiper’s own distress and deliverance. This lesson describes first God’s initiative, for his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime, and then the human responses, weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. The celebratory nature of Yahwistic faith is evident here, as is the prevailing nature of God’s grace, but implicit here is also a lesson many modern believers overlook. Yahweh is a God who delivers, not a God who preserves his people from ever experiencing hardship in general and his anger in particular. We may hope that life would be a consistent, upward progression, but the Psalms clearly show it will have its ups and downs. After all, we should note that much of this thanksgiving psalm consists of repeating elements from an earlier prayer psalm. Obviously there would be no thanksgiving in this formal sense without prior distress and lament. Also implicit in this confession is the personhood of God: God is not a detached, dispassionate deity, but one who is personally and emotionally involved in his people’s lives.[2]


30:5 Then he gives the reason for this praise in the form of two extraordinarily beautiful contrasts. Knox’s translation of this verse is priceless:

For a moment lasts His anger,

for a life-time His love;

sorrow is but the guest of a night,

and joy comes in the morning.

Let me pause here with a personal story. There was a time when the MacDonald family was plunged into deep sorrow. Friends trooped in to express their condolences, but nothing seemed to assuage the grief. Their words were well-intentioned but inadequate. Then Dr. H. A. Ironside sent a brief note in which he quoted Psalm 30:5:

Weeping may endure for a night,

But joy comes in the morning.

That did it. The bands of sorrow were snapped!

Since then I have had occasion to share this verse with many other believers who were passing through the dark tunnel of grief, and always the verse has evoked a nod of gratitude.[3]


30:4, 5 Possibly David judges his illness to be in some way related to God’s anger. in the morning: For a sick person, nothing is so long as a painful, sleepless night; few things are as desired as the coming of morning (5:3; 130:6; 143:8).[4]


30:4–5. Because of God’s deliverance the psalmist called on the people to sing to and praise the Lord. The reason for the praise is the temporary nature of God’s anger to him; it was but for a moment, only for the night. In the morning came deliverance and joy.[5]†


30:5 — For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Our holy God must judge sin, but because He is a loving God, He takes great pleasure in showing mercy and bestowing grace upon us. Hard times may be a fact of life on earth, but one day He will wipe away all our tears (Rev. 7:17).[6]


[1] Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (pp. 93–94). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 154–155). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 590). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 668). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[5] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 816–817). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 30:5). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

CultureWatch: The Oldest Liberal Theology Trick in the Book

Theological liberalism is the fake news version of Christianity. It uses God words but strips them of their biblical content. Thus they deny all the key doctrines of the faith or radically reinterpret them. They reject the miraculous and the supernatural, they reject the uniqueness of Christ, his virgin birth, his deity and his resurrection, they reject the reality of sin, the wrath of God and judgment to come, etc.

Instead they push a schmaltzy and mushy “let’s love everyone and learn to just get along” version of Christianity. As was said in the 19th century about the religious scene in America’s northeast, especially about the Unitarians congregated in and around Boston, this liberal theology comprised three elements: ‘the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the neighbourhood of Boston’.

Biblical Christians have been battling this plague in the church for quite some time now. As one classic example of this, back in 1923, J. Gresham Machen wrote his brilliant volume, Christianity and Liberalism. It is still worth reading today, and you can see one of my write-ups about it here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/07/15/theological-liberalism-progressive-christianity/

Much can be said about the dangers and delusions of theological liberalism. One of the biggest tricks in their playbook is to try to separate the ethics of Jesus from the teachings of Jesus. We find this happening all the time. It is a sure sign that you are dealing with theological liberals when you come across this.

They are quite happy to run with the ethics of Jesus. So they readily latch on to things like “turn the other cheek” and “love one another”. These sorts of passages nicely dovetail into their political liberalism as well. Thus if they are pushing things like pacifism, they can happily claim that these texts are the essence of the message of Jesus.

But they want nothing to do with all of his hardcore teachings, since they do NOT fit into their liberal agenda. Passages like “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again,” and “You are of your father the devil” just do not cut it for the liberals.

Needless to say, all this is to do grave injustice to the Bible and to the Christian faith. It is a great way to trash the Bible and disembowel Christianity, but it is certainly not how we uphold Scripture and the heart and soul of biblical Christianity.

Anyone who has championed biblical orthodoxy would have encountered the theological liberals and had to deal with them. I have had my fair share of confrontations with these folks over the years. Let me spell all this out in a bit more detail.

Consider something that even liberals might at least half-heartedly endorse: the Ten Commandments. When we look at them even just a little bit closely, we see how teaching and theology are also part of the ethical injunctions found there. Theology and ethics are intertwined and cannot be separated.

That is, basic biblical truths about God, his monotheistic and exclusive nature, frame and inform the commandments. And the order of the commandments is crucial here. The first four talk about our obligations to God, and then the last six deal with our obligations to one another.

That is always how it must be. We cannot love and do right to our neighbour until we first love God and obey him. So when a liberal talks a lot about love, he must follow the biblical order, or he will merely be tossing up nice, lofty but vacuous ideals.

The latter commandments flow out of, and are based upon, the former. We are fully unable to love anyone as we should, and getting right with God first is how we must proceed. The Ten Commandments are based on that particular order: we must first love God, by his chosen methods, not our own, and then we can begin to love others.

And that is just what we find in the New Testament as well. That is what the gospel is all about. It is only when we agree with God about our sinful condition, turn from our sins and cast our trust in the work of Christ that we can be reborn and for the first time in our lives really be able to truly love both God and others.

Indeed, Jesus fully summarised and affirmed that. Recall what he said when he was asked about the greatest commandment. As we find in Mark 12:28-31:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

The first commandment is taken from Deuteronomy 6:5. Of interest, the Ten Commandments were just discussed in Deut. 5, so to love God means to obey him and keep his covenant conditions. We cannot speak about loving God apart from obeying his commandments.

And the second commandment is taken from Leviticus 19:18, another book full of laws. So a desire to separate love from law is just as unhelpful and unbiblical as is the effort to separate the ethics of Jesus from the teachings and commands of Jesus.

To push for a sentimental sort of love divorced from biblical truth is just a dead-end proposition. We can only love as God intends us to love when we are in a right relationship with God. And that includes obeying his commands. Biblical love and biblical obedience are a package deal.

So the theological liberal can talk all he likes about love and the brotherhood of man. But he will never get close to what God really expects of us. It will just be a sentimental and sickly-sweet emotivism and an attempt to be ‘nice’ to people. Biblical love is much sturdier and much more robust than that.

Since I early on mentioned Machen, let me quote just one portion of his important volume:

When the gospel account of Jesus is considered closely, it is found to involve the Messianic consciousness throughout. Even those parts of the Gospels which have been regarded as most purely ethical are found to be based altogether upon Jesus’ lofty claims. The Sermon on the Mount is a striking example. It is the fashion now to place the Sermon on the Mount in contrast with the rest of the New Testament. “We will have nothing to do with theology,” men say in effect, “we will have nothing to do with miracles, with atonement, or with heaven or with hell. For us the Golden Rule is a sufficient guide of life; in the simple principles of the Sermon on the Mount we discover a solution of all the problems of society.” It is indeed rather strange that men can speak in this way. Certainly it is rather derogatory to Jesus to assert that never except in one brief part of His recorded words did He say anything that is worth while. But even in the Sermon on the Mount there is far more than some men suppose. Men say that it contains no theology; in reality it contains theology of the most stupendous kind. In particular, it contains the loftiest possible presentation of Jesus’ own Person….

In sum, our rebellious and sinful nature will just not allow us to properly love. That is why Christ came. But to ignore his work at Calvary and continue to champion some sentimental hopes for peace on earth and goodwill to men just will not work.

The teachings of Jesus and his ethical injunctions stand or fall together. That is where the theological liberal goes so badly wrong. And that is just one reason why all true Christians must give a very wide berth to any forms of theological liberalism.

[1381 words]

The post The Oldest Liberal Theology Trick in the Book appeared first on CultureWatch.

The Power of Biblical Thinking (Nick Batzig)

Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a resurgence of interest in Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking in our day. The Reformed Church in America minister–famous for giving people a panacea to protect themselves from all undesirable thoughts and actions–carved out a place for himself in American psychology and religion from the mid to late-twentieth century. President Trump has gone so far as to praise Peale for helping him embrace the idea of self-worth. In the newest season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, a character reads Peal’s The Power of Positive Thinking while riding the public transport through a sketchy borough of the city. Ironically, this scene, full of sanguinity, fails to meet the criteria of what we might otherwise consider to be film noir. Nevertheless, the idea that you have the ability to think and speak away everything undesirable seems to have made a renewed headway in our culture.Every week, I stumble across memes and posts on social media in which someone expresses to someone else the idea that they are “wonderful,” “beautiful,” “special,” and “loved” (oftentimes, with the adverb “so” prefixed to the verb “loved”). When I read such sentiments, my mind immediately turns to the SNL sketch in which Stuart Smalley gives himself daily affirmations: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggonit, people like me.” Joking aside, there is a draw to positive thoughts and words. No one enjoys being around a curmudgeon. No one likes living with fears and discouragement. All of us find it refreshing to spend time with optimists. There is enough misery, sorrow, sadness and suffering all around us. It is certainly a whole lot more enjoyable to spend time with positive people. Furthermore, there is something supremely biblical about thinking right thoughts. The Apostle Paul told the believers in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known t…Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog

How Can We Know That the Bible is from God?

All those who desire to obey God will know by the very words of the Bible that it is indeed from God himself. There is no lack of proof for the truthfulness of the Bible, rather the problem lies in the sinful blindness of all those who willfully continue in their rebellion against God.

MARCH 13 CHRIST DIED EVEN FOR THOSE WHO HATED HIM

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

ACTS 4:12

Our Lord Jesus Christ came and demonstrated the vast difference between being charitable and being tolerant! He was so charitable that in His great heart He took in all the people in the world and was willing to die even for those who hated Him!

But even with that kind of love and charity crowning His being, Jesus was completely frank and open when He taught: “If you are not on My side, you are against Me!” There is no “twilight zone” in the teachings of Jesus—no place in between.

So, charity is one thing, but tolerance is quite another matter.

Suppose we take the position of compromise that many want us to take: “Everyone come, and be saved if you want to. But if you do not want to be saved, maybe there is some other way that we can find for you. We want you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if you will, but if you do not want to, there may be a possibility that God will find some other way for you because there are those who say that there are many ways to God.”

To take that position would not be a spirit of tolerance on our part—it would be downright cowardice! We would be guilty with so many others of a spirit of compromise that so easily becomes an anti-God attitude. Tolerance easily becomes a matter of cowardice if spiritual principles are involved, if the teachings of God’s Word are ignored and forgotten![1]


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

March 13 Characteristics of Peacemakers, Part 1

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

The apostle tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15), that He “reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace.

Today and tomorrow we’re going to look at four things that characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who has made peace with God. Before we came to Christ, God was at war with us. Whatever we may have thought consciously about God, our hearts were against Him. But “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). God reconciled us to Himself through the work of Christ on the cross. Our battle with God ended and our peace with Him began. And because we have been given God’s peace, we are called to share God’s peace with others (Eph. 6:15).

Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel to the rest of the world. Once freed from the shackles of sin, a Christian doesn’t look down on his fellow sinners; he or she realizes they are beggars who have been fed and are now called to help feed others. Our purpose is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To lead a sinner to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a believer can perform. That’s your ministry as an ambassador of Christ.

ASK YOURSELF

Have you ever thought about this before—that you are “called” to the ministry of peacemaking? How does that change your responsibilities as you go through the day? How does it affect the obligation you feel when others continue in stirring up discord and disharmony?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 81). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 13 The Prerequisite for Success

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

S. D. Gordon wrote a book entitled Quiet Talks with World Winners. In it, he tells the story of a group of people who were preparing to ascend Mount Blanc in the Swiss Alps. The guides explained that because of the extreme difficulty of the climb, each person should take only necessary climbing equipment, leaving behind all personal accessories.

A young Englishman ignored the advice and brought extra items, but on the way to the summit, he left them behind, one at a time. Finally, when he had reached the top, he had jettisoned everything except the essential equipment.

S.D. Gordon made this application to the Christian life: “Many of us, when we find we can’t make it to the top with our loads, let the top go, and pitch our tents in the plain, and settle down with our small plans and accessories. The plain seems to be quite full of tents” (55). The question we must all ask ourselves is, Are my personal accessories preventing me from fulfilling the mission God has given me? [1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 86). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Four – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 90:9–17

For all of our days dwindle away in your rage;

we complete our years like a sigh.

As for the days of our years, within them are seventy years

or if by strength eighty years, and their pride is trouble and disaster,

for it passes quickly and we fly away.

Who knows the strength of your anger,

and your rage consistent with the fear due you?

So teach us to number our days

that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O Yahweh. How long?

And have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your loyal love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

for as many years as we have seen calamity.

Let your work be visible to your servants,

and your majesty to their children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,

and establish for us the work of our hands,

yes, the work of our hands, establish it.

Reading: Mark 13:14–23

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the one who reads understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! The one who is on his housetop must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house, and the one who is in the field must not turn back to pick up his cloak. And woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! But pray that it will not happen in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation of such a kind as has not happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will happen. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has shortened the days.

“And at that time if anyone should say to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ ‘Behold, there he is,’ do not believe him! For false messiahs and false prophets will appear, and will produce signs and wonders in order to mislead, if possible, the elect. But you, watch out! I have told you everything ahead of time!”

Reflection

But as the Lord Himself says, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray” (Matt 24:4–5 nrsv). But see how He has pointed out the judgment of the true Christ: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:27 nrsv).

When, therefore, the true Lord Jesus Christ shall come, He will sit and set up His throne of judgment. Also, the gospel says, “He shall separate the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32 [Paraphrase])—that is, the righteous from the unrighteous. As the apostle writes, “For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10 nrsv). Moreover, the judgment will be not only for deeds, but for thoughts also, as the same apostle said, “Their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all” (Rom 2:15–16 nrsv).

—Rufinus of Aquileia

A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed

Response

Paul says we must take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). It’s easy to focus on the external workings of faith, but what about our thoughts? Do you love Christ with your thoughts?[1]


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

March 13, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

3:10 the Lord came and stood: These words reflect Samuel’s very real sense of God’s presence. This appears to have been a theophany, a visible appearance of God, as in Gen. 12:7. Speak … hears: Samuel voiced his readiness to receive God’s revelation. “Hears” (Heb. shama’) means “to hear with interest” and can be translated “obey.” Samuel was listening for God’s word and was determined to obey it.[1]


3:10 is listening. “To hear with interest,” or “to hear so as to obey.”[2]


3:10 Samuel! Samuel! The Lord called other people twice by name at a crucial point in their lives; e.g., Abraham (Gen. 22:11), Jacob (Gen. 46:2), and Moses (Ex. 3:4).[3]


3:10 Yahweh came and stood Language about God standing is sometimes used to describe the closeness of His presence (Gen 28:13; Exod 34:5).[4]


3:10 The twofold Samuel, Samuel may indicate urgency, as it did with Abraham on Mount Moriah (Gn 22:11), with Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:4), or with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Ac 9:4).[5]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 351). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Sa 3:10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 497). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Sa 3:10). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 1 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 416). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

MARCH 13 JUST HUMBLE YOURSELF

LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

—Psalm 144:3-4

Far better than the attempt to understand is the humility that admits its ignorance and waits quietly on God for His own light to appear in His own time. We will be better able to understand when we have accepted the humbling truth that there are many things in heaven and earth that we shall never be able to understand. It will be good for us to accept the universe and take our place in the mighty web of God’s creation, so perfectly known to Him and so slightly known to even the wisest of men….

Probably David lying on his back on the green meadow at night, brooding over the mystery of the moon and the stars and the littleness of man in the total scheme of things, worshiping the God who had made him only a little lower than the angels, was a truer man than the astronomer who in his high pride weighs and measures the heavenly bodies. Yet the astronomer need not despair. If he will humble himself and confess his deep inward need, the God of David will teach him how to worship, and by so doing will make him a greater man than he could ever have been otherwise. ROR088, 090

Lord, I can’t even begin to understand all the vastness of Your universe, but I see Your hand in it. I humble myself before You today, that I might learn to worship You better. Amen.[1]


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

March 13 Understanding Who God Is

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

The more we comprehend the greatness of God, the more humble we will become.

God is not given proper respect today. He is often flippantly referred to as “the man upstairs”—more of a buddy than the eternal God. Many see Him as nothing more than a cosmic Santa Claus or an absent–minded grandfather who winks at sin.

Unfortunately, even Christians can be affected by these views. Such sin dishonors God and undermines the next step to humility: God–awareness. Instead of getting our ideas of God from the world, let’s look at what the biblical writers say about Him.

David said, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1). As he contemplated the exalted position of God, it was only natural for him to say, “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?” (v. 4). We are so minuscule by comparison, it’s a wonder He cares for us at all. But “though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly” (Ps. 138:6).

Isaiah 2:10 says, “Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of His majesty.” When you compare yourself with God, you’ll want to hide under a rock. Verse 11 gives the crux of the issue: “The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Pride is the sin of competing with God. It lifts self up and attempts to steal glory from Him. But God says, “My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 48:11). God will judge those who exalt themselves. God alone is worthy of exaltation.

As you seek humility, remember that you won’t obtain it by sitting in a corner wishing for it. Rather, you’ll gain humility by sitting in that same corner and reciting before God your sins, failures, and inadequacies, then opening the Scriptures and seeing God in all His majesty.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would see God for who He really is, not how the world sees Him.

For Further Study: Read Job 38–41. What aspects of His greatness does God emphasize to Job? Make a list of the most prominent ones.[1]


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

March 12 Daily Help

WHEN no eye seeth you except the eye of God, when darkness covers you, when you are shut up from the observation of mortals, even then be ye like Jesus Christ. Remember his ardent piety, his secret devotion—how, after laboriously preaching the whole day, he stole away in the midnight shades to cry for help from his God. Recollect how his entire life was constantly sustained by fresh inspirations of the Holy Spirit, derived by prayer. Take care of your secret life: let it be such that you will not be ashamed to read at the last great day.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 75). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 12, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Characteristics of the Worthy Walk

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4:2–3)

Here Paul gives five essentials for faithful Christian living, five attitudes on which walking worthily in the Lord’s call are predicated.

humility

These characteristics, of which humility is the foundation, form a progression, the genuine exercise of one leading to the exercise of those that follow.

Tapeinophrosunē (humility) is a compound word that literally means to think or judge with lowliness, and hence to have lowliness of mind. John Wesley observed that “neither the Romans nor the Greeks had a word for humility.” The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. Apparently this Greek term was coined by Christians, probably by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. To the proud Greeks and Romans, their terms for ignoble, cowardly, and other such characteristics were sufficient to describe the “unnatural” person who did not think of himself with pride and self-satisfaction. When, during the first several centuries of Christianity, pagan writers borrowed the term tapeinophrosunē, they always used it derogatorily—frequently of Christians—because to them humility was a pitiable weakness.

But humility is the most foundational Christian virtue. We cannot even begin to please God without humility, just as our Lord Himself could not have pleased His Father had He not willingly “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and … humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8).

Yet humility is terribly elusive, because if focused on too much it will turn into pride, its very opposite. Humility is a virtue to be highly sought but never claimed, because once claimed it is forfeited. Only Jesus Christ, as the perfectly obedient Son, could justifiably claim humility for Himself. “Take My yoke upon you,” He said, “for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). He came to earth as God’s Son, yet was born in a stable, raised in a peasant family, never owned property except the garments on His back, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. At any time He could have exercised His divine rights, prerogatives, and glory, but in obedience and humility He refused to do so because it would have been to go outside His Father’s will. If the Lord of glory walked in humility while He was on earth, how much more are His imperfect followers to do so? “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Although humility is at the heart of Christian character, no virtue is more foreign to the world’s ways. The world exalts pride, not humility. Throughout history, fallen human nature, ruled by Satan, the prince of this world, has shunned humility and advocated pride. For the most part humility has been looked on as weakness and impotence, something ignoble to be despised. People unashamedly claim to be proud of their jobs, their children, their accomplishments, and on and on. Society loves to recognize and praise those who have accomplished something outstanding. Ostentation, boasting, parading, and exalting are the world’s stock in trade.

Unfortunately the church often reflects that worldly perspective and pattern, building many programs and organizations around the superficial enticements of awards, trophies, and public recognition. We seem to have found a way to encourage boasting that is “acceptable,” because such boasting is done in the name of the gospel. But in doing so we contradict the very gospel we claim to promote, because the hallmark of the gospel is humility, not pride and self-exaltation. God’s work cannot be served by the world’s ways. God’s call is to humility and His work is only accomplished through humility.

The first sin was pride, and every sin after that has been in some way an extension of pride. Pride led the angel Lucifer to exalt himself above his Creator and Lord. Because the bright “star of the morning” continually said, “I will, I will, I will” in opposition to God’s will, he was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12–23). Because he said, “I am a god,” the Lord cast him “from the mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:11–19). The original sin of Adam and Eve was pride, trusting in their own understanding above God’s (Gen. 3:6–7). The writer of Proverbs warns, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor” (11:2), “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18), and again “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin” (21:4).

Isaiah warned, “The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11; cf. 3:16–26). “Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one,” God declared against Babylon, “For your day has come, the time when I shall punish you. And the arrogant one will stumble and fall with no one to raise him up” (Jer. 50:31–32). The last chapter of the Old Testament begins, “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff” (Mal. 4:1). The Beatitudes begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), and James assures us that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; cf. Ps. 138:6).

Pride is the supreme temptation from Satan, because pride is at the heart of his own evil nature. Consequently, Satan makes sure that the Christian is never entirely free from the temptation of pride. We will always be in a battle with pride until the Lord takes us to be with Himself. Our only protection against pride, and our only source of humility, is a proper view of God. Pride is the sin of competing with God, and humility is the virtue of submitting to His supreme glory.

Pride comes in many forms. We may be tempted to be proud of our abilities, our possessions, our education, our social status, our appearance, our power, and even our biblical knowledge or religious accomplishments. But throughout Scripture the Lord calls His people to humility. “Before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33); “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (22:4); “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (27:2).

Humility is an ingredient of all spiritual blessing. Just as every sin has its roots in pride, every virtue has its roots in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is. Just as pride is behind every conflict we have with other people and every problem of fellowship we have with the Lord, so humility is behind every harmonious human relationship, every spiritual success, and every moment of joyous fellowship with the Lord.

During the days of slavery in the West Indies, a group of Moravian Christians found it impossible to witness to the slaves because they were almost totally separated from the ruling class—many of whom felt it beneath them even to speak to a slave. Two young missionaries, however, were determined to reach those oppressed peoples at any cost. In order to fulfill God’s calling they joined the slaves. They worked and lived beside the slaves, becoming totally identified with them—sharing their overwork, their beatings, and their abuse. It is not strange that the two missionaries soon won the hearts of those slaves, many of whom accepted for themselves the God who could move men to such loving selflessness.

A person cannot even become a Christian without humility, without recognizing himself as a sinner and worthy only of God’s just condemnation. “Truly I say to you,” Jesus said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself …” (Matt. 18:3–4). At the height of his own fame and recognition as a prophet, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “I am not fit to remove His sandals” (Matt. 3:11) and “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Martha was busy doing many things supposedly for Jesus’ sake, but on three different occasions we see Mary simply sitting humbly at Jesus’ feet. In all four gospels the writers hide themselves and focus attention on Jesus. How easy it would have been for them to subtly include accounts favorable to themselves. Matthew identifies himself as a despised tax-collector, which none of the other gospel writers does. On the other hand, he does not mention the feast that he gave for his fellow tax-collectors to meet Jesus. Because of Matthew’s humility, it was left to Luke to write about that.

Mark probably wrote under the tutelage of Peter, and possibly because of that apostle’s influence he does not report two of the most amazing things that happened to Peter during Jesus’ ministry—his walking on water and his confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. John never mentions his own name, referring to himself simply as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

In a compilation of old quotes is an excellent paragraph written by Thomas Guthrie:

The grandest edifices, the tallest towers, the loftiest spires rest on deep foundations. The very safety of eminent gifts and preeminent graces lies in their association with deep humility. They are dangerous without it. Great men do need to be good men. Look at the mighty ship. A leviathan into the sea, with her towering masts and carrying a cloud of canvas. How she steadies herself on the waves and walks erect on the rolling waters like a thing with inherent, self-regulating life.… Why is she not flung on her beam’s end, sent down floundering into the deep? Because unseen beneath the surface a vast well-ballasted hull gives her balance and takes hold of the water, keeps her steady under a pressive sail and on the bosom of a swelling sea. Even though to preserve the saint upright, to preserve the saint erect and safe from falling, God gives him balance and ballast bestowing on the man to whom He has given lofty endowments, the tendant grace of a proportionate humility.

Humility begins with proper self-awareness, “the virtue,” said Bernard of Clairvaux, “by which a man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness.” It begins with an honest, unadorned, unretouched view of oneself. The first thing the honest person sees in himself is sin, and therefore one of the surest marks of true humility is daily confession of sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9). “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves,” Paul says; “but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). It is not only unspiritual but unintelligent to judge ourselves by comparison with others. We all tend to exaggerate our own good qualities and minimize the good qualities of others. Humility takes off our rose-colored glasses and allows us to see ourselves as we really are. We are not “adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves,” says Paul, “but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

Second, humility involves Christ-awareness. He is the only standard by which righteousness can be judged and by which pleasing God can be judged. Our goal should be no less than “to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), and Jesus Christ walked in perfection. Only of Jesus has God ever said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Third, humility involves God-awareness. As we study His life in the gospels we come to see Jesus more and more in His human perfection—His perfect humility, His perfect submission to the Father, His perfect love, compassion, and wisdom. But beyond His human perfection we also come to see His divine perfection—His limitless power; His knowing the thoughts and heart of every person; and His authority to heal diseases, cast out demons, and even forgive sins. We come to see Jesus Christ as Isaiah saw the Lord, “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” and we want to cry out with the seraphim, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory,” and with the prophet himself, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:1, 3, 5).

When Paul looked at himself in self-awareness, he saw the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). When Peter looked at himself in Christ awareness, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). When Job looked at himself in God awareness, he said, “Therefore I retract, I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Our business success, fame, education, wealth, personality, good works, or anything else we are or have in ourselves counts for nothing before God. The more we rely on and glory in such things, the greater barrier they become to our communion with God. Every person comes before the Lord with nothing to commend him and everything to condemn him. But when he comes with the spirit of the penitent tax-collector, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner,” God will willingly and lovingly accept him. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13–14).

gentleness

Humility always produces gentleness, or meekness. Meekness is one of the surest signs of true humility. You cannot possess meekness without humility, and you cannot possess meekness with pride. Because pride and humility are mutually exclusive, so are pride and meekness, or gentleness.

Many dictionaries define meekness in terms such as “timid,” or “a deficiency in courage or spirit”; but that is far from the biblical meaning. Praotēs (here translated gentleness) refers to that which is mild-spirited and self-controlled, the opposite of vindictiveness and vengeance. Jesus used the adjective form in giving the third beatitude (“Blessed are the gentle,” Matt. 5:5) and to describe His own character (“For I am gentle,” Matt. 11:29). Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23) and should characterize every child of God (Col. 3:12; cf. Phil. 4:5).

The meaning of praotēs has nothing to do with weakness, timidity, indifference, or cowardice. It was used of wild animals that were tamed, especially of horses that were broken and trained. Such an animal still has his strength and spirit, but its will is under the control of its master. The tamed lion is still powerful, but his power is under the control of his trainer. The horse can run just as fast, but he runs only when and where his master tells him to run.

Meekness is power under control. Biblical meekness, or gentleness, is power under the control of God. A meek person is normally quiet, soothing, and mild mannered, and he is never avenging, self-assertive, vindictive, or self-defensive. When the soldiers came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter drew his sword to defend His Lord, Jesus said, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). Even in His humanity Jesus had access to infinite divine power, which He could at any time have used in His own defense. Yet not once did He choose to do so. His refusal to enlist divine resources for anything but obeying His Father’s will is the supreme picture of meekness—power under control.

David displayed such meekness when he refused to kill King Saul in the cave near Engedi, although he had easy opportunity and considerable justification from the human point of view (1 Sam. 24:1–7). After David himself became king, he again showed the restraint of meekness when he refused to retaliate against the malicious taunts, curses, and stone throwing of Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5–14).

Moses is described as, “very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Yet he fearlessly confronted Pharaoh in the Lord’s name (see Ex. 5–12), angrily confronted Israel with her rebelliousness and idolatry (32:19–29), and even boldly confronted the Lord to forgive the people’s sin (32:11–13, 30–32). Yet Moses’ confidence was not in himself but in the Lord’s character and promises. When God first called him, Moses replied, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (4:10). As he served the Lord throughout his life, Moses had God’s rod to remind him that the great work to which the Lord had called him could be accomplished only in the Lord’s own power. That he himself was nothing and God was everything were the marks of Moses’ meekness. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones has observed, “To be meek means you have finished with yourself altogether.”

Yet the meek person is also capable of righteous anger and action when God’s Word or name is maligned, as Jesus was when His Father’s house was made into a robber’s den and He forcibly drove out the offenders (Matt. 21:13). As Paul affirms later in this letter, it is possible to be angry and not sin (Eph. 4:26). Like the Lord Himself, the meek person does not revile in return when he is reviled (1 Pet. 2:23). When the meek person becomes angry, he is aroused by that which maligns God or is harmful to others, not by what is done against himself. And his anger is controlled and carefully directed, not a careless and wild venting of emotion that spatters everyone who is near.

One of the marks of true meekness is self-control. People who are angered at every nuisance or inconvenience to themselves know nothing of meekness or gentleness. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). Two other marks of meekness, already mentioned, are anger at God’s name or work being maligned and lack of anger when we ourselves are harmed or criticized.

The meek person responds willingly to the Word of God, no matter what the requirements or consequences, humbly receiving “the word implanted” (James 1:21). He is also a peacemaker, who readily forgives and helps to restore a sinning brother (Gal. 6:1). Finally, the person who is truly meek and gentle according to God’s standards has the right attitude toward the unsaved. He does not look down on them with a feeling of superiority but longs for their salvation, knowing that he himself was once lost—and would still be lost but for God’s grace. We are to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us], yet with gentleness (praotēs) and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15). Not only Christian women but all believers should be adorned “with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4).

patience

A third attitude that characterizes the Christian’s worthy walk is patience, which is an outgrowth of humility and gentleness. Makrothumia (patience) literally means long-tempered, and is sometimes translated longsuffering. The patient person endures negative circumstances and never gives in to them.

Abraham received the promise of God but had to wait many years to see its fulfillment. “Thus,” the writer of Hebrews tells us, “having patiently waited, he obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:15). God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be a great nation (Gen. 12:2) and yet he was not given Isaac, the child of promise, until after Abraham was nearly a hundred years old. “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

God told Noah to build a ship in the wilderness, far from any body of water and before there had ever been rain on earth. For 120 years Noah worked at that task, while preaching to his neighbors of God’s coming judgment.

In the chronicle of faithful Old Testament saints in the book of Hebrews, Moses’ patient endurance is mentioned twice. He chose rather “to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:25–27).

James said, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord” (James 5:10). When God called Jeremiah, He told the prophet that no one would believe his message and that he would be hated, maligned, and persecuted (Jer. 1:5–19). Yet Jeremiah served the Lord faithfully and patiently until the end of his life. Similarly, when the Lord called Isaiah he was told that the nation would not listen to him nor turn from their sin (Isa. 6:9–12). Like Jeremiah, however, he preached and ministered with patient faithfulness.

Paul was willing to endure any hardship, affliction, ridicule, or persecution in order to patiently serve his Master. “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?” he asked the Christians at Caesarea after the prophet Agabus predicted the apostle’s arrest and imprisonment. “For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

When H. M. Stanley went to Africa in 1871 to find and report on David Livingstone, he spent several months in the missionary’s company, carefully observing the man and his work. Livingstone never spoke to Stanley about spiritual matters, but Livingstone’s loving and patient compassion for the African people was beyond Stanley’s comprehension. He could not understand how the missionary could have such love for and patience with the backward, pagan people among whom he had so long ministered. Livingstone literally spent himself in untiring service for those whom he had no reason to love except for Christ’s sake. Stanley wrote in his journal, “When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal, and those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side, though he never spoke to me one word.”

Aristotle said that the greatest Greek virtue was refusal to tolerate any insult and readiness to strike back. But that is not God’s way for His people. The patient saint accepts whatever other people do to him. He is “patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14), even those who try his patience to the limit. He is patient with those who slander him and who question his motives for serving the Lord.

The patient saint accepts God’s plan for everything, without questioning or grumbling. He does not complain when his calling seems less glamorous than someone else’s or when the Lord sends him to a place that is dangerous or difficult. He remembers that God the Son left His heavenly home of love, holiness, and glory to come to earth and be hated, rejected, spat upon, and crucified—without once returning evil for evil or complaining to His Father.

forbearing love

A fourth characteristic element of the worthy Christian walk is forbearance to one another in love. Peter tells us that such “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). It throws a blanket over the sins of others, not to justify or excuse them but to keep the sins from becoming any more known than necessary. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Prov. 10:12). Forbearing love takes abuse from others while continuing to love them.

Forbearing love could only be agapē love, because only agapē love gives continuously and unconditionally. Erōs love is essentially self-love, because it cares for others only because of what it can get from them. It is the love that takes and never gives. Philia love is primarily reciprocal love, love that gives as long as it receives. But agapē love is unqualified and unselfish love, love that willingly gives whether it receives in return or not. It is unconquerable benevolence, invincible goodness—love that goes out even to enemies and prays for its persecutors (Matt. 5:43–44). That is why the forbearance of which Paul speaks here could only be expressed inagapēlove.

unity

The ultimate outcome of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance is being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Spoudazō (to be diligent) basically means to make haste, and from that come the meanings of zeal and diligence. One commentator describes it as a holy zeal that demands full dedication. Paul used the word in telling Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15; cf. Titus 3:12–13).

Preservation of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace should be the diligent and constant concern of every believer. Paul is not speaking of organizational unity, such as that promoted in many denominations and in the ecumenical movement. He is speaking of the inner and universal unity of the Spirit by which every true believer is bound to every other true believer. As Paul makes clear, this is the unity of the Spirit working in the lives of believers. It does not come from the outside but the inside, and is manifested through the inner qualities of humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearing love.

Spiritual unity is not, and cannot be, created by the church. It is already created by the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.… There are many members, but one body” (1 Cor. 12:13, 20; cf. Rom. 8:9). It is this very unity of the Spirit for which Jesus so earnestly prayed in the Upper Room shortly before His betrayal and arrest: “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are, … that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us.… And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity” (John 17:11, 21–23).

The church’s responsibility, through the lives of individual believers, is to preserve the unity by faithfully walking in a manner worthy of God’s calling (v. 1), manifesting Christ to the world by oneness in Him (cf. Rom. 15:1–6; 1 Cor. 1:10–13; 3:1–3; Phil. 1:27). The world is always seeking but never finding unity. All the laws, conferences, treaties, accords, and agreements fail to bring unity or peace. Someone has reported that throughout recorded history every treaty made has been broken. There is not, and cannot be, any peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22). As long as self is at the center; as long as our feelings, prestige, and rights are our chief concern, there will never be unity.

The bond that preserves unity is peace, the spiritual belt that surrounds and binds God’s holy people together. It is the bond that Paul described in Philippians as “being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:2). Behind this bond of peace is love, which Colossians 3:14 calls “the perfect bond of unity.”

Humility gives birth to gentleness, gentleness gives birth to patience, patience gives birth to forbearing love, and all four of those characteristics preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. These virtues and the supernatural unity to which they testify are probably the most powerful testimony the church can have, because they are in such contrast to the attitudes and the disunity of the world. No program or method, no matter how carefully planned and executed, can open the door to the gospel in the way individual believers can do when they are genuinely humble, meek, patient, forbearing in love, and demonstrate peaceful unity in the Holy Spirit.[1]


The Worthy Life

Ephesians 4:1–3

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Years ago when my wife and I were in a Christian education class in seminary, we were given an assignment to design a Sunday school curriculum. It was to have various age levels and an overall theme, tying the various subjects, classes, and age groupings together. Today, years later, there is much about this curriculum that I have forgotten, but the unifying concept is still vivid in my mind. It was based on the principle that “input” (what is taught as content) should equal “output” (the expression of content in practical works of service).

This curriculum was never put into practice; it was only an exercise. I cannot say how successful we might have been in matching each bit of information to some practical expression, but I do know that the principle itself is valid. The apostle Paul followed the same principle in his major epistles. Anyone who has studied Paul’s letters knows that they tend to begin with a doctrinal section and that this is customarily followed by a section containing practical advice or application.

The epistle to the Romans fits this pattern. The doctrinal sections are in chapters 1–11. The practical section is chapters 12–15, beginning with the words: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” In Galatians the division is between chapters 1–4, on the one hand, and chapters 5 and 6 on the other. The latter section of Galatians begins: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

This is the point to which we have now come in our study of Ephesians. With the possible exception of Romans, no New Testament letter contains a stronger or more exhilarating presentation of theology. Chapters 1–3 have spoken of predestination and election, adoption and redemption, the work of the Holy Spirit, rebirth, the work of God in joining people from all nations and all walks of life together in the one holy body of Christ, the church. This is so marvelous a section that Paul ends chapter 3 with a doxology. We want to say with Paul, “To [God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (v. 21). And we do say this, passionately and intently—if we have understood the teaching in these chapters.

Yet the letter does not stop. Paul immediately goes on to say, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” He is telling us that doctrinal “input” must be matched by an equal, practical “output” of that doctrine in our lives.

Scales of Life

This important idea is also contained in the word “worthy,” which Paul uses in verse 1. “Worthy” means to have worth or value. But it is more than that. It means to have a worth equal to one’s position. A worthy opponent is one whose gifts equal one’s own. A workman “worthy of his hire” is one whose service merits the wages he receives. In his commentary on Ephesians, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes this as a scale in which the weight on one side always equals the weight on the other, in this case the weight of practice equaling the weight of doctrine: “The Apostle … is beseeching them and exhorting them always to give equal weight in their lives to doctrine and practice. They must not put all the weight on doctrine and none on practice; nor all the weight on practice and just a little, if any at all, on doctrine. To do so produces imbalance and lopsidedness. The Ephesians must take great pains to see that the scales are perfectly balanced.”

But that is hard to achieve.

There are some Christians who are primarily intellectual in nature. They love books, enjoy study, and delight in the exposition of the Bible’s great doctrinal passages. This is a good thing. It is proper to love doctrine and rejoice at what God has done for us in Christ. Paul himself obviously did this; we can tell from the way he has unfolded his doctrines in the first three chapters of this letter. But the intellectual believer faces a great danger and often has a great weakness as a result of failing to overcome the danger. He loves doctrine so much that he stops with doctrine. He reads the first three chapters of Ephesians and delights in them; but when he comes to chapter 4 he says, “Oh, the rest is just application. I know all about that.” Then he skips ahead to the next doctrinal section and neglects what he perhaps most needs to assimilate.

On the other hand, some Christians are primarily oriented to experience. They thrive under the teaching found in the second half of this book. They want to know about spiritual gifts and their own exercise of them. They are excited about Paul’s teaching about the family and other such things. This is “where it’s at” for them; they find the doctrinal section dry and impractical.

But, you see, each of these is an error. Doctrine without practice leads to bitter orthodoxy; it gives correctness of thought without the practical vitality of the life of Christ. Practice without doctrine leads to aberrations; it gives intensity of feeling, but it is feeling apt to go off in any (and often a wrong) direction. What we need is both, as Paul’s letters and the whole of Scripture teach us. We can never attach too much importance to doctrine, for it is out of the doctrines of God, man, and salvation that the direction and impetus for the living of the Christian life spring. At the same time, we can never attach too much importance to practice, for it is the result of doctrine and proof of its divine nature.

Calling and Conduct

Paul’s way of teaching this truth in verse 1 is to urge us to live worthy of our Christian calling. The old versions used the word “vocation” at this point, but “calling” is better, at least in contemporary speech. Vocation has come to mean something we choose, while calling is something for which we are chosen. We remember here that the word “church” (Greek, ekklēsia) means “the called out ones.” The emphasis is upon what God has done, which is the point Paul has been elaborating in the opening chapters of Ephesians. Because God has set his hand upon us and called us, changing us from what we were into what we have now become, we are to live as Christians in this world.

Two parts of this calling deserve special notice. First, God has called us “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). This means that we have been given understanding. Before our calling we were like the blind man in John 9. We could not see Christ, and we were not even fully appreciative of our blind condition since, having never seen, we could never fully value sight. We thought the way to happiness was the world’s way. We did not know that we were spiritually bankrupt, emotionally warped, and morally naked. When God called us, opening our eyes to the blessed truths of the gospel, for the first time we understood the nature of God’s way and perceived how desirable it is. This is so basic to the experience of salvation that if a person has not had an opening of the eyes to see things differently, we may properly wonder if he has actually been saved. How can a person be urged to live a life worthy of his calling if he has not begun to understand what that calling is?

But there is more than this. The first part of God’s calling involves being brought into light from darkness; that is, it involves understanding. The second part involves God’s calling us out of death into life, which is what Paul emphasized in Ephesians 2:4: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” This means that God, who has awakened us to a new life also gives us the power to live that life. It is because we are now spiritually alive, where before we were spiritually dead, that we are able to heed Paul’s urging and live for God.

Life Together

In the remainder of this letter Paul is going to develop two main themes, both aspects of the worthy life: (1) unity among believers and (2) the godly life, particularly in regard to relationships. The first will be considered in 4:4–16. The second is from 4:17 to the end. However, in the first three verses of chapter 4 Paul gives a preliminary statement embracing both: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” There are five specific characteristics of the worthy life in these verses.

  1. Humility. Everyone knows that Christians should be humble. Humility is the opposite of pride or self-assertion. If we are saved “by grace … through faith … not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9), it is evident that Christians cannot be proud. We are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility [are to] consider others better than [our]selves,” as Paul says in Philippians 2:3.

But it is not easy to do, because our pride is easily wounded by what we consider thoughtless or unfair conduct by others.

In his commentary on Ephesians, Watchman Nee of China tells of a brother in south China who had his rice field on a hill. During the growing season he used a hand-worked water wheel to lift water from the irrigation stream that ran by the base of the hill to his field. His neighbor had two fields below his, and one night he made a hole in the dividing wall and drained out all the Christian’s water to fill up his own two fields. The brother was distressed. But he laboriously pumped water up into his own field, only to have the act of stealing repeated. This happened three or four times. At last he consulted his Christian brethren. “What shall I do?” he asked. “I have tried to be patient and not retaliate. Isn’t it right for me to confront him?”

The Christians prayed, and then one of them replied. “If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians,” he said. “We have to do something more than what is right.”

The Christian farmer was impressed with this advice. So the next day he went out and first pumped water for the two fields below his and then, after that, worked throughout the afternoon to fill his own field. From that day on the water stayed in his field, and in time the neighbor, after making inquiries as to what caused him to behave in such a fashion, became a Christian. This is humility. It is refusing to insist on our rights and actually putting our neighbor’s interests before our own.

  1. Gentleness. In the older versions this is called meekness, but for us “gentleness” is probably better, simply because meekness is so generally misunderstood. To most, meekness suggests weakness. But that is not the idea at all. Meekness was the chief characteristic of Moses, according to Numbers 12:3 (where the niv uses the word “humble”), but Moses was not a weak man. He was a strong man, strong enough to appear before Pharaoh, declaring, “This is what the Lord says: Let my people go” (Exod. 8:1). Similarly, the Lord Jesus was meek or gentle, yet strong. He said of himself, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). He told his disciples, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
  2. Patience. It takes time to learn patience, and unfortunately one of the chief ways we learn it is through suffering. A rather pious individual once came to a preacher and asked him to pray for him that he might have patience. “I do so lack patience,” he said, trying to be humble as he said it. “I wish you would pray for me.”

“I’ll pray for you right now,” the preacher replied. So he began to pray: “Lord, please send great tribulation into this brother’s life.”

The man who had asked for prayer put a hand out and touched the preacher on the arm, trying to stop his prayer. “You must not have heard me rightly,” he said. “I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I asked you to pray that I might have patience.”

“Oh, I heard what you said,” the preacher answered. “But haven’t you read Romans 5:3, ‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience’? It means we acquire patience through the things that we suffer. I prayed that God would send tribulations so that you would have patience.”

Another valid translation of the word “patience” is “long-suffering,” which means “suffering long.” It is what God does with us. He suffers long with us; if he did not, there would be no Christianity. Therefore, we ought to suffer long or be patient with each other.

  1. Bearing with one another. The suffering aspects of patience come out clearly in this next Christlike characteristic, but there is a difference. This one relates specifically to trials we have as a result of uncharitable conduct toward us by other Christians. When the non-Christian neighbor stole the field-water of the Chinese Christian, the Christian showed patience, gentleness, and humility in the way he dealt with the offense—and won the unbeliever to Christ. But what if that neighbor is a Christian, wronging us in this or some other way? What is to be our attitude to him or her? Paul’s answer is that we are to endure the wrong, suffer the slight. Thus, we are to demonstrate a way of life superior to that of the ungodly world and show the special unity which is ours in Jesus Christ.
  2. Unity. The fifth characteristic is that believers are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v. 3). It is evident at this point, in case we had missed it before, that each of these characteristics is related to the others (which the translators show in part by their groupings of them) and that they have all been tending in the direction of this great matter of unity, which is to be Paul’s theme for the next thirteen verses. Christians are to be one because, as he will say in just a moment, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (vv. 4–6).

It is important to say two things about this unity. First, it is “the unity of the Spirit,” which means that it is a unity the Holy Spirit has already given to those who are in Christ. This is a wonderful and often a very visible thing. Harry Ironside writes about how he once fell sick while in the midst of a series of meetings in Minneapolis and was forced to return home to California by train, which was the best mode of transportation in those days. He could barely stand. So the porter made up a lower berth for him and allowed him to recline there throughout the day. The first morning he opened his Bible and began to read it as part of his devotions. A stout German woman happened by and stopped when she saw the Bible. “Vat’s dat? A Bible?” she asked.

“Yes, a Bible,” Ironside replied.

“Vait,” she said, “I vill get my Bible and we vill haf our Bible reading together.”

A short time later a tall gentleman came by and asked, “Vat are you reading?” He was a Norwegian. He said, “I tank I go get my Bible too.” Each morning these three met, and others collected. Ironside wrote that once there were twenty-eight people and twenty-eight Bibles and that the conductor would go through the train, saying, “The camp meeting is beginning in car thirteen. All are invited.” It was a great experience.

At the end of the trip, as the cars divided up in Sacramento, some to go north and some south, the German woman asked, “Vat denomination are you?”

Ironside replied, “I belong to the same denomination that David did.”

“Vat vas dat? I didn’t know dat David belonged to any denomination.” Ironside said, “David wrote that he was ‘a companion of all them that fear God and keep his precepts.’ ”

The woman said, “Yah, yah, dat is a good church to belong to.”

This is a real and wonderful unity, as I said. But at the same time, it is often destroyed by false pride, narrow denominationalism, and sinful striving for position. So Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” This is the second important thing to be said about unity. The first is that we have a unity given to us by the Holy Spirit; it corresponds in some measure to the doctrinal truths of Christianity, which is why Paul lapses into doctrine again in verses 4–6. But, second, we are to keep or maintain this unity, which corresponds to the practical or experiential side of Christianity.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 120–129). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 120–125). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.