Daily Archives: March 19, 2018

March 19: A Merciful Smackdown

Numbers 22:1–41; 1 Corinthians 5:1–6:11; Psalm 19:1–14

Sometimes, we’d rather not be teachable. When it comes to taking advice from people in my church community, it’s easier to keep an emotional distance than it is to listen. If I tread lightly on their sin, maybe they’ll tread lightly on mine. If we keep our problems to ourselves, we can maintain a certain understanding. This type of tolerance has deadly results.

Unrestrained sin and pride doesn’t just hurt the one who is sinning—its waves affect everyone (1 Cor 5:6). This is why Paul takes such a strong stance against it in 1 Cor 5:1–13. In Corinth, believers were using their freedom to commit all sorts of sordid sins. And instead of being broken about their sin, they were filled with pride—they were boasting about their freedom.

Paul knew he had to do something drastic to break through such thought patterns. His statement is startling for those who might practice tolerance for sin: “I have decided to hand over such a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5). This type of judging is not seen as casting someone to the depths of hell; rather, it is casting someone out of the Christian community with the purpose of helping them see their sin for what it is. (For Paul, the realm of Satan was everything outside of Christ; thus, everything outside of the Church was the realm of Satan.)

We aren’t called to judge people who have no claim to following Jesus. Rather, we’re called to hold accountable those who, like us, believe the good news (1 Cor 5:11). Within the bounds of authentic Christian community and trust, we need to be ready to call each other out when sin and pride creep in—and we need to do it with loving intolerance.

How are you reaching out to others who are struggling with sin? How are you making yourself approachable and teachable?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

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

March 19 Forsaking Self-centered Prayer

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).


Relinquish your will to Christ’s sovereign rule.

Attempting to explain all that is involved in the phrase “Thy kingdom come” is like a child standing on a beach attempting to scoop the entire ocean into a little pail. Only in eternity will we grasp all that it encompasses, but the poem “His Coming to Glory,” written by the eighteenth-century hymnwriter Frances Havergal, captures its essence:

Oh the joy to see Thee reigning,

Thee, my own beloved Lord!

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing

Brought to Thee with glad accord;

Thee, my Master and my Friend,

Vindicated and enthroned;

Unto earth’s remotest end

Glorified, adored, and owned.

Psalm 2:6–8 reflects the Father’s joy on that great day: “‘I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ ‘I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thy inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.”’” God will give the kingdoms of the world to His Son, who will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).

With that promise in mind, beware of seeing prayer primarily as an opportunity to inform God of your own plans and to seek His help in fulfilling them. Instead pray, “Thy kingdom come,” which is a request for Christ to reign. In its fullest sense this is an affirmation that you are willing to relinquish the rule of your own life so the Holy Spirit can use you to promote the Kingdom in whatever way He chooses.

That kind of prayer can be difficult because we tend to be preoccupied with ourselves. But concentrate on conforming your prayers to God’s purposes. Then you will be assured that you are praying according to His will.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the hope of Christ’s future reign on earth. ✧ Ask Him to use you today as a representative of His Kingdom.

For Further Study: According to Ephesians 4:17–5:5, how should citizens of Christ’s Kingdom behave?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 91). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Proverbs 10:22

It is a fact in human history that men and women have never in any great numbers sought after truth.

The young people who stream from our halls of learning each year confess to having no more than a passing and academic interest in truth. The majority admit that they go to college only to improve their social standing and increase their earning power.

So, the average American will confess that he most wants success in his chosen field; and he wants success both for prestige and for financial security.

The ominous thing about all this is that everything men and women want can be bought with money, and it would be difficult to think of an indictment more terrible than that!

Real seekers after truth are almost as rare as albino deer! Why? Because truth is a glorious but hard master. Jesus said, “I am…the Truth”( John 14:6) and followed Truth straight to the cross. The Truth seeker must follow Him there, and that is the reason few men seek the Truth!

Lord, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the things of this world. Help me to find a balance between working to provide for my family and trusting You for all our needs.[1]

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

March 19, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arrives in Washington on a grand tour of the U.S. this week seeking to burnish his credentials as a decisive reformer to do business with.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on a California law that forces licensed pregnancy-counseling clinics that promote childbirth as an alternative to tell patients they might be eligible for free or discounted abortions. Pregnancy centers say they are being compelled to advertise a procedure they abhor.

President Donald Trump called for drug dealers to receive the death penalty in some cases as part of his administration’s effort to address the opioid crisis.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saw his support tumble in weekend opinion polls as anger continues to rise over a cronyism scandal.

Southeast Asian nations and Australia vowed to unite in opposing protectionism, while also using their summit in Sydney to urge North Korea to denuclearize immediately.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to let Arizona deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who are protected from deportation under a program started by President Barack Obama.

Grammy Award-winning rapper Pitbull is heading to the United Nations to discuss the global water crisis on World Water Day. The organization Clean Water Here announced on Monday that the international pop star will be named Clean Water Here Ambassador on March 22, when he visits the U.N. in New York City.

Danish police say they are searching at least two people suspected of attacking the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen with firebombs.

Facebook Inc. shares fell the most in two months Monday as American and European officials demanded answers to reports that a political advertising firm retained information on millions of Facebook users without their consent.

Russian election observers denounced what they said were large-scale violations in the presidential vote that handed Vladimir Putin a crushing victory, including ballot-stuffing that was captured on state-controlled cameras.

This is how the grocery industry lives now. Regional chains are filing for bankruptcy. European-born discounters are expanding, forcing competitors to keep their own prices low. And Kroger and Walmart the two largest grocers in the U.S., are investing in technology and expanding delivery as they try to fend off an incursion by Amazon.

AP Top Stories

The people of eastern Ghouta are living in their own tombs. That’s what it feels like in the small basements where thousands of families shelter, day and night, as bombs and missiles fall outside.

Adrian Lamo, the computer hacker who reported Chelsea Manning to authorities for sharing classified documents with WikiLeaks, was found dead in an apartment in Wichita, Kansas, last week, according to local reports.

The U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarine, the USS Colorado, joined the fleet Saturday in a ceremony at Connecticut’s Naval Submarine Base.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday that Russia has been stockpiling the deadly nerve agent used to poison a Russian former double agent in England and has been investigating how such weapons can be used in assassinations.

Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus explained her reporting on secrecy agreements President Donald Trump forced employees to sign in an attempt to prevent leaking.


Police in Austin, Texas, have warned the public that a fourth explosion there may pose a new threat. They said they were investigating reports the explosion, which injured two people, was activated by tripwire.

A French citizen in Israel has been charged with smuggling weapons to Palestinians for financial gain. He is accused of transferring dozens of guns between Gaza and the occupied West Bank, using a consular car to avoid Israeli security checks.

Amid an acute national shortage of banknotes, the town of Elorza in western Venezuela has started issuing its own paper currency. Local officials said that the currency would make it easier for residents and visitors to trade during the town’s festivities, which start on Monday. They said rampant hyperinflation and a scarcity of bolivars, the national currency, had affected trade in Elorza. The new currency can be bought at the mayor’s office via bank transfer.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has released the names of hundreds of companies and individuals who failed to return $827m illegally stashed abroad despite an amnesty.

Within less than two decades it will be cheaper to operate robots in US factories than hire workers in Africa, a new report warns. Falling automation costs are predicted to cause job losses as manufacturers return to richer economies.

Sri Lanka has lifted a state of emergency imposed on 6 March in response to an outbreak of violence against Muslim communities.


When Turkey’s semi-official newspaper Yeni Safak called for urgent action in forming a 57-nation “Army of Islam” to besiege and attack Israel, a suggestion undoubtedly approved with at least a wink and nod by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it would signal the possible intent to create the largest military force on the planet – one nearly as large as the total population of the Jewish state.

A federal judge recently told school officials in San Diego to reveal details of their work with an Islamic advocacy organization that has been designated by the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist group, putting it in the same classification as ISIS.

The Briefing — Monday, March 19, 2018

1) As Putin wins record fourth term we’re reminded that not all elections are equal

New York Times (Neil MacFarquhar) –
Putin Wins Russia Election, and Broad Mandate for Fourth Term

2) The unforgivable sin according to Vladimir Putin? Betrayal.

New York Times (Andrew Higgins) –
Why Moscow Will Never Apologize for Attack on Ex-Spy

3) Why we should be alarmed by a special report on sexuality in one California high school’s student newspaper

The Express (Editors) –
The Express’ Open Letter to Principal Smalley

4) Gold falls from the skies, literally, in one Russian town

New York Times (Matthew Luxmoore) –
For a Moment in Russia, Gold Falls From the Sky

News – 3/19/2018

New Age Oprah Mocks God and Jesus on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert hosted a blasphemous segment with New Age Oprah that they called, “‘Oprah Winfrey gets some career advice from a slightly less famous figure: the Lord.” During the show, they openly mocked God and Jesus.

US Ambassador Friedman criticizes Palestinian silence after terror attacks
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman knocked the Palestinian Authority’s silence in the wake of two recent terrorist attacks in a tweet… “Tragedy in Israel. 2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the North, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness,” he tweeted.

Kurdish shock and Turkish celebration as Afrin falls to the Turks
“Disgust and anger, and fear for the innocent people of Afrin is all I feel at this moment,” one Kurdish sympathizer wrote on Twitter. “The world stood by, their silence tacit complicity, as Russia, Turkey and Iran destroyed the last part of Syria wholly untouched by war. And for what?” On Sunday the city of Afrin and most of the province around it in northwestern Syria fell to the Turkish army and the Syrian rebel groups it supports.

Australia bushfire: Dozens of buildings feared lost in Tathra
More than 70 homes and buildings are feared to have been destroyed in a bushfire in Australia, authorities say. The fast-moving fire engulfed the New South Wales (NSW) coastal town of Tathra late on Sunday local time. Authorities said locals were evacuated to a nearby town and there were no reports of anyone missing.

Russia election: Muted Western reaction to Putin victory
World leaders are congratulating Vladimir Putin on his election for a new six-year term as Russian president. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country’s partnership with Russia was at its “best level in history”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to congratulate Mr Putin soon but no other Western leaders have yet done so, amid tensions over the poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK.

Venezuela town issues own currency amid cash shortages
Amid an acute national shortage of banknotes, the town of Elorza in western Venezuela has started issuing its own paper currency. Local officials said that the currency would make it easier for residents and visitors to trade during the town’s festivities, which start on Monday. They said rampant hyperinflation and a scarcity of bolivares, the national currency, had affected trade in Elorza.

French consulate worker ‘smuggled arms from Gaza’
A French citizen employed at the country’s consulate in Jerusalem will appear in court on Monday charged with smuggling weapons to Palestinians. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Romain Franck, 23, was arrested in February. The agency said he used a diplomatic car to evade detection as he smuggled arms from Gaza to the West Bank.

Stem cell transplant ‘game changer’ for MS patients
Doctors say a stem cell transplant could be a “game changer” for many patients with multiple sclerosis. Results from an international trial show that it was able to stop the disease and improve symptoms. It involves wiping out a patient’s immune system using cancer drugs and then rebooting it with a stem cell transplant.

Facebook may have violated FTC privacy deal
Two former federal officials who crafted the landmark consent decree governing how Facebook handles user privacy say the company may have violated that decree when it shared information from tens of millions of users with a data analysis firm that later worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

China to ban citizens with bad ‘social credit’ rating from taking flights or using trains for up to a year
…People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

U.S. tariffs, China trade tensions overshadow G20 finance meeting
Worries about the potential for a U.S.-China trade war and frustration over U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs threatened to dominate a gathering of finance leaders this week amid strengthening growth. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin…will be in a position of defending Trump’s trade plans against widespread criticism from G20 partners.

Chinese government-appointed bishops back Vatican-China deal
Chinese bishops appointed by the country’s communist government are voicing support for the Vatican’s dealings with China that may allow the government to decide who becomes bishop. Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan said he was confident that the Chinese government and the Vatican will soon reach an agreement on appointment of bishops, reported Eurasia Review on Tuesday. Bishop Fang said that Catholics a should support President Xi proposed sinicization of religion “because we, as citizens of the country, should first be a citizen and then have religion and beliefs.”

The secret to winning America’s new civil war
Such compromise was possible only because, underlying the give and take between liberal and conservative, most Americans were on the same page culturally and religiously: Deep down, pretty much everyone embraced our country’s Judeo-Christian moral foundation. Not anymore. You cannot understand America solely through a political lens anymore. A new California law, SB 219, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, says you can be thrown into prison for 12 months for failing to use the correct transgender pronoun….we are way beyond politics and into genuine madness.

Tropical Cyclone Marcus slams parts of Australia
At least 26,000 people are without power in the northern Australian city of Darwin after a tropical cyclone slammed into the area. The storm, named Marcus, is believed to be the strongest cyclone to hit the city in 30 years.

North Korea ‘in talks to free US detainees’ as diplomacy escalates
North Korea is in talks with the US and Sweden to release three jailed Americans, reports said, as diplomatic activities intensified ahead of Pyongyang’s planned summits with Washington and Seoul. The release of the three Korean-Americans is under discussion through multiple channels more than a week after President Donald Trump agreed to meet the North’s Kim Jong Un, the reports said.

So Long to the Iran Deal
Tillerson had been engaged in a months-long defense of the Iran nuclear deal that finally reached an impasse when he took Europe’s side in debates over the agreement. As Trump said later, he and his secretary of state disagreed on important policies such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and putting “maximum pressure” on North Korea. When you add his backing of the Iran deal, widespread criticism of his management style, and the fact that he is said to have called his boss a moron, it’s a wonder Tillerson made it this far.

The impending embassy move’s effects on Israeli, Palestinian ties with U.S.
“I put the word out that I may do it. I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it,’” Trump said. “I said we have to do it. It’s the right thing to do. We have to do it. And I did it.” Initially, US ambassador David Friedman and a small staff will set up their offices in the existing American consular building in the Arnona neighborhood in west Jerusalem. That Arnona building will then temporarily become America’s official embassy, even though the majority of American diplomats will remain at the current embassy building in Tel Aviv, on Hayarkon St..

Edward Snowden: Facebook Is A Surveillance Company Rebranded As “Social Media”
Edward Snowden slammed Facebook in a Saturday tweet following the suspension of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, over what Facebook says was imporoper use of collected data. Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post. They are not victims. They are accomplices

Fourth nor’easter this month could hit Northeast next week
A European forecast says heavy snow is possible more inland from West Virginia to upstate New York, while the American model says the storm will be more coastal — and slamming into New Jersey, Long Island and perhaps New York City.

WHO says diphtheria infected over 1,300 people in Yemen
The World Health Organization says a diphtheria outbreak in war-torn Yemen has spread rapidly nationwide and infected more than 1,300 people.

Evangelical Judge Who Refused to Marry Same-Sex Couples Handed Down Longest Suspension in History
An evangelical judge who has refused to marry same-sex couples was handed down a three-year suspension without pay Thursday by the Oregon Supreme Court, the longest suspension in the court’s history.

Watch this typical liberal explain why murdering a two-year-old infant is perfectly acceptable to leftists
Many abortion advocates try to spin their support for murdering unborn babies in the womb by claiming that it’s all about a “woman’s choice.” But the pro-death abortion cult is rapidly shedding even this rhetorical veneer,

Indian publisher features Hitler in book on ‘great leadership’
Mahahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela would likely be dismayed at being put in the same category as Adolf Hitler – but that is exactly the case in an Indian children’s book about “inspiring leaders.”

FEEDING THE WORLD: Israel Makes Deserts Bloom Around the Globe
Israeli pioneers transformed an arid land into fertile green farmlands. Now Israelis are bringing the gift of water to nations around the world.

Russia Claims US Deploys Warships For Imminent Attack On Syria, Trains Militants For False Flag Attack
Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly warned about upcoming chemical provocations

Grassroots effort that ‘defeated evil empire’ rekindled
Tactics by Save Soviet Jewry now deployed to help persecuted Christians

‘Army of Islam’ would be world’s biggest military
When Turkey’s semi-official newspaper Yeni Safak called for urgent action in forming a 57-nation “Army of Islam” to besiege and attack Israel, a suggestion undoubtedly approved with at least a wink and nod by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it would signal the possible intent to create the largest military force on the planet – one nearly as large as the total population of the Jewish state.

Abortionist Who Said She Cuts Unborn Babies’ Cords So They Can’t Scream Deletes Her Post Abortionist Leah Torres deleted her brutally honest tweet about killing unborn babies this week after it resulted in a lot of bad publicity for the abortion industry.

Senate Judiciary Dem calls on Zuckerberg to testify before committee
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Saturday called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee following reports that a data firm took Facebook users private information for President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump Asked Saudi King For $4 Billion So US Troops Can Leave Syria 
The Washington Post has revealed that President Trump attempted to extricate US troops from Syria by asking ally Saudi Arabia to foot the bill for postwar reconstruction and “stabilization” projects in the area of northeast Syria currently occupied by US coalition forces, to the tune of $4 billion. The deal would involve US allies like Saudi Arabia moving into a lead position regarding coalition policy in Syria, while hastening a US exit.

IRS Documented 1.3M Identity Thefts by Illegal Aliens; Can’t Say It Referred Any for Prosecution

(Terrence P. Jeffrey – CNSNews) – The Internal Revenue Service in 2011 through 2016 documented more than 1.3 million cases of identity theft perpetrated by illegal aliens whom the IRS had given Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), which are only given to people who are ineligible to work in the United States or receive Social Security Numbers, according to information published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration(TIGTA).

However, in response to inquiries from CNSNews.com, the IRS could not say if it had referred even one of these cases for criminal prosecution. View article →

How Information Technology Giants are Preparing the Way for Antichrist – Eric Barger

Foer interjected that Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, had quipped, “We want Google to be the third half of your brain.” That, my friend, is a chilling and absolutely accurate sentiment in the tech world. [1]

Foer told Carlson, “We’re not just merging with the machines. We’re merging with the companies that operate those machines, that run those machines. And so, they’re able to impose their values onto us through them.”[2]

View Article

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 19, 2018

Sessions Fires McCabe, Twitter Storm Ensues

Former FBI director blames Trump, while Trump once again blasts Mueller investigation as a witch hunt.

The Foundation

“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.” —John Adams (1777)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 19

  • EU, U.K. Reach Brexit Transition Deal (Read More)
  • ECB debate shifting to interest rate path from QE (Read More)
  • Trump’s Attacks on Mueller Prompt Senator Warnings (Read More)
  • EU lawmakers to investigate alleged misuse of Facebook users’ data (Read More)
  • Congress Braces for Battle Over Massive Spending Bill (Read More)
  • Zuckerberg Under Pressure Over Breach, Facebook Shares Fall (Read More)
  • Facebook Ignites Debate Over Third-Party Access to User Data (Read More)
  • Weakening FANG Stocks Stir Overnight Volatility in U.S. Futures (Read More)
  • Hedge Funds Suffer Worst Month in Two Years (Read More)
  • Powell’s Fed to show policy caution, shun political friction (Read More)
  • For Companies in Puerto Rico, Return to Business as Usual is Painfully Slow (Read More)
  • Trump Calls for Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers to Combat Opioids (Read More)
  • Higher Deposit Rates May Finally Be Coming to Your Bank Account (Read More)
  • Russian Observers Charge Fraud in Putin’s Landslide Re-Election (Read More)
  • ‘Where can I buy?’ – Google makes push to turn product searches into cash (Read More)
  • Supermarket Casualties Begin to Pile Up in Amazon-Fueled Battle (Read More)
  • Grubhub Expands Pact With Yelp, Aiming for Cheaper Deliveries (Read More)
  • Wynn Attorney Claims Woman Advanced Extortionist Demands (Read More)

Headlines – 3/19/2018

PA blasts American policy of ‘dictates’ – PA bureau in charge of foreign affairs says Washington is biased in favor of Israel and thwarts the efforts to achieve peace

The Palestinian fuse is getting shorter – With an empty diplomatic toolbox, the Palestinians feel terror is the only thing they have left

Israeli military destroys two Hamas terror tunnels in Gaza

Netanyahu warns donors to Gaza their aid money is being ‘buried’ in tunnels

Destroyed tunnels and border bombs: Hamas and Israel dangerously close to another Gaza war

2 French consulate employees suspected of smuggling Hamas arms

Israeli man killed in Jerusalem terror stabbing

Shin Bet: Stabber was in Jerusalem on a permit, looking for work

Army said mulling moving security fence to split car-ramming suspect’s hometown

Israeli tech takes on Judea and Samaria rock terror

After 26 years, Argentine government joins ceremony to commemorate terrorist attack on Israeli embassy

Former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky named Israel Prize recipient for ‘ingathering of the exiles’

Egypt: 4 troops, 36 Islamic militants killed in Sinai battle

Syria prepares against a US offensive

Syria’s President Assad visits troops on Ghouta’s front line

Rebels in Syria’s eastern Ghouta discussing ceasefire with UN – statement

Kurdish militia vows to make Afrin ‘an ongoing nightmare’ for Turks

Syria war: Turkish-led forces oust Kurdish fighters from heart of Afrin

Turkey claims Afrin city centre is under ‘total’ control

Gargash: Qatar paid up to $1 bln in funds to terrorist groups

Egypt and UAE: Quartet stands firm on 13 demands for Qatar

Trump prepares for visit by Saudi prince who has rocked the kingdom

‘Only death’ can stop him: Saudi’s crown prince in his own words

Saudi Crown Prince Must Answer For Atrocities In Yemen

Saudi, US forces continue military training exercises

Arab coalition to show new evidence of Iran arming Yemen’s Houthis

Trump will nix Iran nuke deal, senior Republican predicts

Trump’s firings signal hawkish turn on North Korea and Iran

US, South Korea, Japan discuss denuclearization, summits

North Korea to hold informal talks with U.S., South Korea in Helsinki

North Korea, US representatives to meet in Finland

Putin: Russia’s post-Soviet tsar

Putin wins fourth term with 73.9% of vote – exit poll

Putin storms to landslide election win as opposition cries foul

In Russian election, some people say they were ordered to vote

Putin rejects spy attack claims, as chemical weapons experts head to UK

Putin: Russia ready to help in UK ex-spy probe

Russia has secret chemical weapons hoard, says Boris Johnson

Britain accuses Russia of secretly stockpiling deadly nerve agent used in attack

Trump heats simmering Russia probe grievances to boil

Trump’s tweetstorm against Comey, McCabe hints at firing of Mueller

US Republican senators warn Trump not to end Russia probe

Republicans to Trump: Let Mueller do his job

CIA admits to spying on Senate staffers

Facebook is facing its biggest test ever and its lack of leadership could sink the company

After package bombs, another explosion injures 2 in Austin, Texas

Deadly Austin bombings were ‘meant to send a message,’ police chief says

Why Self-Driving Vehicles Are Going to Deliver Pizzas Before People

On a cloudless day, Israel breaks its solar power production record

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Lemito, Indonesia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Norsup, Vanuatu

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits South of Tonga

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kuril’sk, Russia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Bandar-e Ganaveh, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Hasaki, Japan

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Aoba volcano on Vanuatu erupts to 12,000ft

Series of Potential Geyser Eruptions Reported at Yellowstone National Park

Forecasters predict ‘atmospheric river’ will hit Southern California this week

Southern California burn areas may face major mud flows at midweek

D.C. lawmaker says recent snowfall caused by ‘Rothschilds controlling the climate’

DC councilman apologizes for promoting conspiracy theory that weather is controlled by Jews

As experts warn of global infectious diseases timebomb, Colombia records its first measles case in years

Two polio workers killed in attack in Pakistan

Dubai tests vaccine to rid camels of deadly disease easily transmitted to humans

John Oliver Trolls Vice President Mike Pence With Gay Children’s Book of His Pet Bunny

Facebook facing lawsuits for censorship

Posted: 19 Mar 2018 06:16 AM PDT

Facebook facing lawsuits for censorship(By Nate Brown) I never thought I’d see the day when our country would come to a place where we were not allowed to share our views, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. This is a wake-up call for all Americans! Our freedom of speech is disappearing before our eyes. If we don’t fight for our rights, our children will greatly suffer. There are so many areas where our freedom of speech is being stripped, but the biggest place where it’s happening the most is good ol’ Facebook.

If people can post death threats and violent graphic photos of sex, (which should be illegal) on their Facebook page, others who post stories of God’s truth and hope should also be allowed – if not featured posts. I have personally had my videos blocked on Facebook as well as people filling my inbox telling me they can’t share my posts or like my posts. I could really care less about if they hit the LIKE button. I want people to be able to share the content that I produce. Many other close friends are having the same issues on Facebook. However, one bold warrior for Christ, Pastor Rich Penkoski is in the midst of a lawsuit with the state of West Virginia and soon Facebook due to what recently transpired on his page. CONTINUE

Police Urging Austin, TX residents to stay inside following multiple explosions

Posted: 19 Mar 2018 05:51 AM PDT

Police Urging Austin, TX residents to stay inside following multiple explosionsPolice told residents of a neighborhood in southwest Austin to stay at home until 10 a.m. (11 a.m. ET) Monday after the fourth explosion in less than a month hit Texas’ capital, injuring two men. In a late-night news conference on Sunday, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley raised the possibility that a tripwire triggered the device in Travis County.  “We will not be able to send school buses into the neighborhood on Monday,” he said. “In addition to that, we’re going to ask the residents in the Travis County neighborhood to stay in your homes tomorrow morning and give us the opportunity to process the scene once the sun comes up.”

The men hurt in Sunday’s blast — both in their 20s — were being treated for non-life threatening injuries, officials said. Manley asked the community “to have an extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device whether it be a package, a bag, a backpack, anything that looks out of place and do not approach it.” Police are working under the belief that the incident is related to a string of unsolved package bombings this month which killed two and injured two others, though that has not yet been confirmed. READ MORE

Jim Caviezel Believes He’s ‘Called’ to Play Biblical Roles to Show Hollywood Christ

Posted: 19 Mar 2018 05:44 AM PDT

Jim Caviezel Believes He’s ‘Called’ to Play Biblical Roles to Show Hollywood ChristHollywood actor Jim Caviezel is gearing up for the release of his new film, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” and says he feels called to make Christian films and share the love of Jesus Christ throughout his industry.  “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” hits theaters March 23rd and will bring to life the story of Saul of Tarsus, who was known for persecuting and murdering Christians but went on to become one of the most powerful and important figures of the Church after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Caviezel said he wanted to do this film because it’s the “most important genre” for this time. “Often times when we think about conversion, it’s not necessarily going to make us wealthier but it’ll do one thing, it’ll give us a heart filled with just great joy that we’ve been lacking,” Caviezel told the Christian Post at the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention on March 1. “Certainly, in my industry, I’ve seen so many that are wealthy but are dead,” he continued. “My Lord’s message to me was, ‘Ok you felt my love come through you. You can’t judge them, you have to be love for them because that’s the only Christ they’re going to know.’” READ MORE

DEVELOPING: 4TH Explosion strikes Austin, TX – 2 Injured

Posted: 19 Mar 2018 05:24 AM PDT

DEVELOPING: 4TH Explosion strikes Austin, TX – 2 InjuredAn explosion that injured two men in southwest Austin on Sunday night–the fourth explosion this month–was possibly set off by a trip wire.  It happened in the 4800 block of Dawn Song Drive near Mopac and 290 around 8:45 p.m. Sunday. There were reports of additional explosions in the same neighborhood, but those have not yet been confirmed.

Austin Police are urging residents in the area of Dawn Song Drive to stay in their homes until given the “all clear” by officers. APD Chief Brian Manley says residents within half mile radius of Dawn Song Drive are advised to stay inside or avoid the area until daylight, and that police are investigating a second item–a backpack–found in the neighborhood. READ MORE

Atheist Activist Group Demands Pastor End Lunchtime Bible Study at School Immediately!

Posted: 18 Mar 2018 10:17 AM PDT

Atheist Activist Group Demands Pastor End Lunchtime Bible Study at School Immediately!One of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activist groups is seeking to stop an Ohio pastor from holding a voluntary lunchtime Bible study for students at a local middle school.  The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the superintendent of the Indian Creek School District to assert that it is unconstitutional for the district to allow Bobbyjon Bauman of the Valley Youth Network to offer the study during school hours at Indian Creek Middle School. The

group further called the pastor’s gospel presentations “predatory conduct.” “It is unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders access to befriend and proselytize students during the school day on school property,” FFRF wrote. “This predatory conduct is inappropriate and should raise many red flags. The district cannot allow its schools to be used as recruiting grounds for churches during the school day.” READ MORE

Extreme drought kills more than 700,000 animals so far this year in Mongolia

Posted: 18 Mar 2018 10:11 AM PDT

Extreme drought kills more than 700,000 animals so far this year in MongoliaMore than 700,000 animals have died in Mongolia this year due to dzud, a brutal natural disaster unique to Mongolia where a summer drought combines with a harsh winter and vast numbers of livestock die from either starvation or cold.  As of March 7, snowfall covered up to 50% of the country, with 66 administrative subdivisions in 12 provinces experiencing dzud or near dzud conditions, Mongolian National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring said in a statement,

adding that a total of 710,740 animals died so far this year.  Among the provinces, Khovd and Uvs in the west, Khuvsgul in the northwest, as well as Khentii in the east registered the highest rates of animal death.  A prolonged period of severe dry weather between mid-May and end of July 2017, intensified by extremely high temperatures in June, damaged large swatches of cropped areas and caused a severe deterioration of pastures and rangeland conditions, FAO/WFP reported on December 22, 2017.  READ MORE

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God’s Problem Is a Lack of Evidence

Romans 1:18-20

Code: B180319

If God really exists, why doesn’t He show Himself in some dramatic, undeniable way?

That question was posited not long ago in a Washington Post opinion article headlined “Where is God?” And it accurately reflects the widespread sentiment of an unbelieving world.

Wondering aloud “Where is God?” is an understandable cry of desperation during a crisis. David expressed words to that effect when he found himself in a deeply despairing situation. “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). But as is always the case with genuine believers, the truth David knew eventually soothed the pain he was feeling: “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6).

The Demand for More Evidence

Atheists, on the other hand, lean heavily on the supposed lack of evidence for God as the basis for their denial of His existence. They like to portray themselves as objective and reasonable individuals, and readily proclaim their willingness to go where the evidence leads them.

However, their “objective” inquiry is hardly exhaustive. For atheists, the mere inability to see God is often proof enough of His nonexistence. Others argue that if God does exist, the burden of proof is on Him. Put simply, God’s problem is a lack of evidence.

That popular lie has become the defense of many who deny God’s existence, and a stumbling block to Christians who believe they need to prove it.

Do We Need to Prove God?

Evidential apologists can confuse unbelief with ignorance. They consider the supposed information gap as the void Christians need to fill to usher uneducated unbelievers into the kingdom. Consequently, these well-meaning Christian intellectuals labor long and hard in the quest for compelling evidence of God’s existence. But true Christians aren’t mentally coerced—they’re spiritually converted.

We should be thankful for the compelling evidence of our Creator that we find in everything from the design in DNA to the layout of our solar system. But as an evangelistic tool, the evidential approach inevitably ends up doing more harm than good, as it turns the Creator-creature relationship on its head. God ends up in the seat of the accused and man places himself in the seat of judgment.

This is an ancient pattern for unbelievers. When Jesus hung on the cross, different factions of people insisted that Christ prove His deity to them on their terms. The Jewish rulers sneered and said, “Let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God” (Luke 23:35). The Roman soldiers teased Him in a similar way: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself” (Luke 23:36). And even the unrepentant criminal, a man you would think realized he was in no position to make demands, chided Jesus: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us” (Luke 23:39).

In essence, accusing God of a lack of evidence is nothing less than idolatry. Sinful man routinely asserts his imagined sovereignty over God.

Yet the God of the Bible defines Himself on His terms, not ours. “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7). “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

In Exodus, the Lord described Himself to Moses in succinct and nonnegotiable terms.

The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. (Exodus 34:6–7)

God authoritatively declares who He is and what He is like; we don’t get to do that.

God Has Proven Himself

Scripture also makes clear that God has not left Himself invisible and unrevealed to mankind.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18–20)

God’s fingerprints are all over His creation. Just as a painting is proof of a painter and a building is proof of a builder, so too is creation proof of its Creator. As John MacArthur explains,

God has made His invisible attributes visible. The particular attributes that man can perceive in part through his natural senses are God’s eternal power and His divine nature. God’s eternal power refers to His never-failing omnipotence, which is reflected in the awesome creation which that power both brought into being and sustains. God’s divine nature of kindness and graciousness is reflected, as Paul told the Lystrans, in the “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). . . .

God’s natural revelation of Himself is not obscure or selective. . . . Even in the most ancient of times, long before the telescope and microscope were invented, the greatness of God was evident both in the vastness and in the tiny intricacies of nature. Men could look at the stars and discover the fixed order of their orbits. They could observe a small seed reproduce itself into a giant tree, exactly like the one from which it came. They could see the marvelous cycles of the seasons, the rain, and the snow. They witnessed the marvel of human birth and the glory of the sunrise and sunset. Even without the special revelation David had, they could see that “the heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). [1]

Through the majesty and order of His creation, the invisible God undeniably reveals Himself.

Man’s Problem Is Unbelief

God has never been the One with the problem. He has never been absent or invisible. From the beginning of time, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Unbelievers are those with the problem because they willfully “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Man’s problem is unbelief—willful, defiant unbelief.

Evidence for God—or lack of evidence—has never been the issue. Atheism is nothing more than a façade for people who love sin and hate God.

We cannot allow sinful men to stand in judgment over God. Instead, we must warn unbelievers about God’s impending return and the judgment that follows. We cannot accept sinners’ demands for a god of their own choosing. We must proclaim the one, true God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.

And we must have the courage to expose the real problem of all unbelief: the insatiable love of sin and the absolute refusal to worship God as He rightly demands.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180319
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The Word-less “Church”

Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?

What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.

What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.

Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)

First, he calls us to be educated by the Word, which will lead us on to ever-richer wisdom by “teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul is reminding us that the Word must be taught and applied to us as a part of it dwelling richly in us. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must be growing in the Word.

It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from the Word. We must be growing in a knowledge of the will of God for us: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). Knowing the will of God will make us wise and in that wisdom we will be renewed in the image of our Creator, an image so damaged by sin: “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10).

This wisdom will also reorder our priorities and purposes, from that which is worldly to that which is heavenly: “The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5). When that Word dwells in us richly we can be confident that we know the full will of God: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (1:25). From the Bible we know all that we need for salvation and godliness.

Second, Paul calls us to expressing the Word from ever-renewed hearts in our “singing.” Interestingly, Paul connects the Word dwelling in us richly with singing. He reminds us that singing is an invaluable means of placing the truth of God deep in our minds and hearts. I have known of elderly Christians far gone with Alzheimer’s disease who can still sing songs of praise to God. Singing also helps connect truth to our emotions. It helps us experience the encouragement and assurance of our faith: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2–3).

The importance of singing, of course, makes the content of our songs vital. If we sing shallow, repetitive songs, we will not be hiding much of the Word in our hearts. But if we sing the Word itself in its fullness and richness, we will be making ourselves rich indeed. We need to remember that God has given us a book of songs, the Psalter, to help us in our singing.

Third, Paul calls us to remember the effect of the Word to make us a people with ever-ready “thanksgiving.” Three times in Colossians 3:15–17 Paul calls us to thankfulness. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly, we will be led on to lives of gratitude. As we learn and contemplate all that God has done for us in creation, providence, and redemption, we will be filled with thanksgiving. As we recall His promises of forgiveness, renewal, preservation, and glory, we will live as a truly thankful people.

We need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly today more than ever. Then churches may escape being a mess and become the radiant body of Christ as God intended.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Source: The Word-less “Church”

The Basic Spirituality of Yoga

In an article I penned in 2010 titled A subtle and dangerous shift in Christianity I expressed my concerns over churches that were offering “Christian yoga”:

It seems everyone’s practicing yoga meditation these days. Physicians recommend it to their patients which means it’s beneficial…right? Meditation is said to relieve stress, anxiety, hypertension, acne and post-nasal drip, so go for it! Just tighten those abdominal muscles, inhale deeply and chant Maaaaaaaaa all in one breath and your concerns will drift away like a feather floating on the wind…

But what if you’re a Christian? Should you practice the same sorts of things as Buddhist, Hindus and New Agers?

Former New Ager Marcia Montenegro believes that Christians who practice yoga–even “Christian yoga”–shouldn’t.  In an article Marcia wrote for Midwest Christian Outreach,she brings to light the spiritual dimension of yoga that, in her words, “should not be ignored.” Marcia has given CRN permission to publish her piece.

The Basic Spirituality of Yoga

By Marcia Montenegro

Yoga is one of the most popular topics I am asked about when I speak in churches or at conferences. I twice practiced Hatha Yoga at separate times while participating in the New Age for about 20 years, prior to coming to a saving faith in the true Jesus Christ. At that time, Yoga was primarily understood as a spiritual practice even though it was beginning to slowly branch out into the secular world.

I watched as Yoga migrated further into mainstream culture as “exercise,” cleverly marketed in such a way that the image of a woman doing a Yoga pose (asana) or sitting in the Lotus position became the norm, and was always associated with health, beauty, peace, and strength.

The Yoga being discussed here is Hatha Yoga, only one of many Yogas. Yoga, as a whole, is a complex esoteric system oriented toward attaining liberation from a false reality and uniting with the ultimate reality or god (however that god may be perceived). Hatha Yoga, meaning “Sun” and “Moon,” is a practice whereby the body becomes a deliberate tool for this path to a purported enlightenment; that is, becoming more spiritually aware of the true inner divine Self and the need for liberation from this life. The concept of Sun and Moon also represents the goal of uniting opposites into one, based on the belief that there are no real distinctions, but that all is truly one (in non-dual Hinduism; there is dualistic Hinduism which teaches distinctions). So, we cannot even get away from spirituality when using the name “Hatha Yoga.”

“The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: hameans “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies.” (From Yoga Journal article “What is the Purpose of Asana?”)

Indeed, the word “Yoga” itself means “union.” But it is not union of body and mind, according to the popular adage. Although defined in various ways, the classic meaning is union of the Atman, or inner divine self, with Brahman, the supreme Hindu god (or one Hindu god who manifests as many gods). Yoga is also defined as awakening to and union with the “higher self” or “higher consciousness” in New Age terms, which is the realization of the inner divine self.

Hatha Yoga, popular today from the corner gym to boutique studios peppering every city and maybe even every town, is also a part of Kundalini YogaKundalini, as with all Hindu concepts, is layered with complexity; but, essentially, it is believed to be an invisible energy coiled at the base of the spine. Awakening this energy through meditation and certain Yogic practices is a spiritual work.

The Yoga poses, postures, or asanas are not designed as an exercise but as preparation for more advanced Yoga styles of meditation in order to aid in this enlightenment. The postures can induce meditative states and are a discipline to train the body into submission for deeper meditative states of more advanced Yoga.

“Exercising postures or Asanas in Hatha Yoga has two essential objectives. The first is that to practice any real meditation, one needs at the least one posture in which one can be perfectly comfortable for a longer period of time. The more such postures one can master, the better the basis for developing the inner meditation techniques. The second objective of exercising asanas in Hatha Yoga is to bring health and energy to body and mind by opening the nadis.” (“Hatha Yoga” )

The nadis are allegedly “subtle” channels in the body through which flow Prana, the sacred energy of the universe (“subtle” means they are invisible). The so-called breathing techniques of Yoga, Pranayama, as well as the poses – the asanas — are meant to open these channels so that the energy of Kundalini can flow through and vitalize the person on all levels, especially spiritually. In Eastern spiritual practices such as Yoga, Qi-Gong, and Hindu meditation, breath is considered to be sacred and to be a link to a divine source. This is why Pranayama is essential in Yoga. The concepts and terms are all so interconnected, that it is difficult to detach them from each other. Explaining one leads to a necessity in explaining another, and another after that. There is no real end to it. It is like grabbing the end of a string and pulling on it, only to discover that the string is part of a tangled web that can never be unraveled. This is how I see Yoga.

Some asanas honor mythical Hindu heroes or Hindu gods, such as the warrior pose, done to honor the Hindu god, Shiva, who created a warrior, Virabhadra, to avenge the death of Shiva’s wife. Another asana, lying on one’s back with split legs, honors Hanuman, the monkey god (see “The Heroes, Saints, and Sages Behind Yoga Pose Names”).

Chakras, which means “wheels,” are allegedly invisible energy centers ranging from the pelvic area to the top of the crown (sometimes the crown chakra is said to be an endpoint and not a chakra). Each one is correlated to a specific purpose but needs to be activated by kundalini. The asanas are done partly to prepare the chakras for the kundalini.

Yoga’s popularity has turned “chakras” into an almost everyday word. Once a little-known term used in the New Age and the occult, it now is liberally sprinkled in the language of alternative treatments, meditation, and even health advice. Chakras are assumed to exist, even though they don’t. The concept is entirely spiritual.

Yoga no longer hides its spirituality as forcefully as it once did. Presenting it as mere exercise has concerned and angered some practitioners and many Hindus, who are calling for it to be brought back to its proper spiritual standing. Several years ago, I noticed that the popular Yoga Journal was including more spiritually oriented articles, including chants to Hindu gods.

Tokens of Eastern spirituality, like drawings of Ganesha (a popular Hindu elephant-headed god) on clothing, and the Aum (Om) design as a tattoo and printed on clothing and totes, have become widespread. The Aum/Om symbol (looks somewhat like a backward capital E with embellishment) is considered to be a sacred sound that has a spiritual effect on the person chanting it and is said or chanted in some Yoga classes.

As we see from the information, the main terms used in Hatha Yoga are spiritual or are connected to the vast network of Hindu spiritual beliefs:

Asanas Aum Chakras Hatha Yoga Kundalini Nadis Prana/Pranayama Yoga

Like other arcane systems, Yoga is endlessly complicated and convoluted. But just touching on the essentials of Yoga practice reveals a spiritual dimension, hidden to most, that should not be ignored. Can we do Yoga as exercise without the spirituality? I would rephrase that as: “Can we get close to a fire and not get burned?” Maybe, but why try? There are numerous ways to exercise without getting near Yoga.

The world is captivated by the idea of prolonging youth and health, and Yoga feeds on that. But all of that will come to a crashing end for everyone. The basics of Yoga are a non-Christian and non-eternal spirituality, but Yoga itself is not basic to life, and certainly does not compare to the eternal life and the glorified resurrected body through faith in Christ.

On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NASB)Ω


Asanas and gods, Hindu heroes

Ancient Yoga texts

© 2018, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.


Source: The Basic Spirituality of Yoga

March 19, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

9 This pronouncement is preceded by the solemn “I tell you the truth” (see comments at 3:28). As in the Olivet Discourse (13:10), Jesus predicts that the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. In an indirect way Jesus is here predicting his resurrection, because the preaching of the gospel presupposes the resurrection. The central message of the good news is Jesus’ defeat of sin and death through his resurrection. And anywhere in the world that this good news is preached, this woman’s act of love and devotion will be remembered. The incorporation of this story in Mark’s gospel confirms the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction.[1]

9. I solemnly assure you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, also what she has done shall be told in memory of her. As already indicated, it was now Saturday evening, the day before the triumphal entry. Then on Tuesday Jesus was going to make the astounding prediction, “And to all the nations the gospel must first be preached” (13:10; cf. Matt. 24:14). For “gospel” see N.T.C. on Philippians, pp. 82–85. This gospel must be preached. Preaching, in the religious sense, means heralding. Careful exposition is basic. But genuine preaching is lively, not dry; timely, not stale. It is the earnest proclamation of news initiated by God. It is not the abstract speculation of views excogitated by man. See N.T.C. on 2 Tim. 4:2.

But before Jesus makes the announcement about worldwide gospel preaching he now, that is, three days earlier, solemnly promises that wherever the joyful story travels, the deed of Mary will march hand in hand with it. The memory of Mary’s noble act must be kept alive. The Master will not allow it to be forgotten. Cf. Matt. 25:34–40.

In studying this section one is prone to commit the error of becoming so filled with admiration for Mary’s beautiful deed as to forget that what she did was only a reflection of the Master’s own kindness toward her. Consider not only his mercy in saving her but also the tenderness he revealed when in this particular moment he rushed to her defense. After all, he knew that the hour of his own incomparably bitter suffering was fast approaching. Nevertheless, so deeply did he love his own (cf. John 13:1) that, because of his appreciation for what she had done, he was wounded deeply by the unjustified criticism to which she was subjected. His heart went out to her.

Is not the real lesson this, therefore, that God, whose image is Christ (Heb. 1:3), takes infinitely keen delight in rewarding the faithfulness of those who honor him? Whenever we enumerate his many glorious attributes, should we not also pay due attention to the fact that he is indeed “the Rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6)?

Note how generously and with what intense delight he rewarded:

Abraham (Gen. 22:15–18)

Ruth (Ruth 1:16, 17; 2:12; 4:13–22)

Hannah (1 Sam. 1:1–20)

Ebed-melech the Ethiopian (Jer. 39:15–18)

King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19)

King Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:1–30)

Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1:1–6:28)

“The commended centurion” (Matt. 8:5–13)

The Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24–30)

Those who brought their little ones to Jesus (Mark 10:13–16)

His loyal disciples, in spite of their many faults (Mark 10:23–31)

The poor widow who gave “her whole living” (Mark 12:41–44)

The Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11–19)

Ever so many other names could be added, but this small list should suffice to indicate what is one of the main lessons—perhaps even the main lesson—taught here in Mark 10:13–16.[2]

14:9 The fragrance of that perfume reaches down to our generation. Jesus said that she would be memorialized worldwide. She has been—through the Gospel records.[3]

[1] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 941). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 560–562). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1358). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


And when the centurion…saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

MARK 15:39

The current mania of men and women to succeed in the world is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors. By this lust the whole world of mankind is driven as by a demon, and there is no escape.

When we come to Christ we enter a different world. The New Testament introduces us to a spiritual philosophy infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that which motivates the world. According to the teaching of Christ the poor in spirit are blessed; the meek inherit the earth; the first are last and the last first; the greatest man is the one that best serves others and the one who loses everything is the only one that will have everything at last. The successful man of the world will see his hoarded treasures swept away by the tempest of judgment; the righteous beggar goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man burns in the fires of hell.

Our Lord died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society and forsaken by His friends. The man who ordered Him to the cross was the successful statesman whose hand the ambitious hack politician kissed. It took the resurrection to demonstrate how gloriously Christ had triumphed and how tragically the governor had failed. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait![1]

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

March 19 Expecting Verbal Insults

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.—Matt. 5:11

Beyond physical persecution, Jesus encouraged believers with blessing for having insults cast against them. The Greek word for “insult” carries the idea of reviling, upbraiding, or serious insulting. To insult someone is to throw abusive words in the face of an opponent, to mock viciously.

To be an obedient citizen of the kingdom is to court verbal abuse and reviling. As He stood before the Sanhedrin after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was spat upon, beaten, and taunted with the words, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?” (Matt. 26:68). As He was being sentenced to crucifixion by Pilate, Jesus was again beaten, spit upon, and mocked, this time by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:19–20).

Faithfulness to Christ may even cause friends and loved ones to say things that cut and hurt deeply. But remember, it is clear that the hallmark of a blessed person is righteousness. Holy living is what provokes persecution of God’s people. Such persecution because of a righteous life is joyous.

Make sure you are doing all you can to live faithfully for Christ.


How would you define the joys and blessings that flow from being misunderstood and mistreated? What do we unwittingly choose to miss by responding to the words, actions, and demeaning looks of persecution with anger, bitterness, hate, retaliation, or any other less-than-godly reaction?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 87). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 19 Renewing Our Passion

Jesus went about all the cities and villages,teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom.

Matthew 9:35

Everything worthwhile in life is the result of someone’s passion. Significant events of human history are the result of a deep and consuming desire to see goals fulfilled. The consuming desire of believers should be to see the gospel reach the world. However, we live in an age that tends to dull our sharpness. Our culture obscures legitimate goals and would rob our faith of its fiery power if given the chance.

Indeed, some Christians are a cold bath for the fiery heart. They just don’t understand someone with a passionate concern about a spiritual enterprise, because spiritual passion is not the norm. The norm is not to let Christianity disrupt your lifestyle. If you follow that, your spiritual temperature will drop and you’ll become apathetic.

We all need to ask ourselves, Where is our burden for evangelism? Why isn’t evangelism the church’s central function? Is the church only a self–indulgent activity center, content with comfort and prosperity?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 91). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Monday

Confession: Psalm 69:5

O God, you yourself know my foolishness,

and my guilty deeds are not hidden from you.

Reading: Mark 14:22–31

And while they were eating, he took bread and, after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them and said, “Take it, this is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you that I will never drink of the fruit of the vine any longer until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And after they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written,

‘I will strike the shepherd

and the sheep will be scattered.’

But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” But Peter said to him, “Even if they all fall away, certainly I will not!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that today—this night—before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times!” But he kept saying emphatically, “If it is necessary for me to die with you, I will never deny you!” And they all were saying the same thing also.


Behold this mystery, then, thoughtfully before God. See how carefully, faithfully, and devoutly our Lord does every action … And then, as a memorial of His love, He adds, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 nrsv). This is that memorial which, when the grateful soul receives by eating or by spiritual meditation ought to be inflamed and inebriated with love.… For nothing could He leave for us dearer, sweeter, and more profitable than Himself. For He who comes to us in the sacrament is the same who was wonderfully conceived and born of the virgin. He endured death for you, rose again, ascended gloriously, and sits at the right hand of the Father. He it is who created heaven, and earth, and all things, and who rules and guides them. On Him depends your salvation. It is in His power and will to give or not to give the glory of paradise. He it is who is offered for you and is given to you. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

—Saint Bonaventure

The Life of Christ


Take a moment to think about the greatness of the sacrifice Christ made for you. He has died, defeated death, and in His resurrection He has brought you new life. Whatever your circumstances are, are you filled with the hope of His resurrection?[1]

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

March 19, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Principle

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. (2:1)

James prefaces this command by addressing readers as my brethren, indicating that he is speaking out of love and as a fellow believer and brother in Christ. Mostly as a preface to an admonition or warning, James uses this or the expanded phrase “my beloved brethren” some fifteen times in the letter (e.g., 1:2, 16, 19; 2:5, 14; 4:11; 5:7).

The basic principle is succinctly stated in verse 1, indicating that having genuine faith in the gospel of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ while holding an attitude of personal favoritism is contradictory and incompatible.

The phrase our glorious Lord Jesus Christ is, more literally, “our Lord Jesus Christ of the glory,” perhaps referring to God’s Shechinah glory (see Ex. 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11), the history of which James’s Jewish readers would have been very familiar. The idea is that we cannot hold the faith of Jesus Christ, who is the very presence and glory of God, and be partial. Jesus Himself was impartial (Matt. 22:16), as indicated by His humble birth, family, and upbringing in Nazareth, and His willingness to minister in Samaria and Galilee, regions held in contempt by the Jewish leaders.

In the Greek text, the phrase do not … with an attitude of favoritism is in the emphatic position, preceding hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ and thereby giving special force to the imperative admonition, which carries the idea of continuation, of not making a practice of favoritism, which has no place in the life of a faithful Christian. A few verses later (2:9), James makes clear that favoritism is not simply discourteous and disrespectful but is a serious sin.

Being partial is in total conflict with our salvation and with what Scripture teaches (cf. Lev. 19:15; Prov. 24:23; 28:21). If we are saved, we are children of God; and if we are His children, we should emulate Him. Paul declares categorically that “there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11; cf. Lev. 19:15; Job 34:19; Prov. 24:23; 28:21; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25; 1 Pet. 1:17).

There is, of course, a proper special respect and honor that should be shown to the elderly and to those in authority, both in the church and in society in general. Through Moses, the Lord commanded, “You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32). Paul wrote the Thessalonians to “appreciate” and “esteem … very highly” their pastors (1 Thess. 5:12–13). “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor,” Paul told Timothy, “especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). Quoting Exodus 22:28, Paul apologized for unknowingly calling the high priest a “whitewashed wall” (Acts 23:3–5). Likewise,

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. (Rom. 13:1–5)

Peter reiterates that admonition, saying, “Fear God, honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:17).

An attitude of personal favoritism translates the single Greek word prosōpolēmpsia, which has the literal meaning of lifting up someone’s face, with the idea of judging by appearance and on that basis giving special favor and respect. It pertains to judging purely on a superficial level, without consideration of a person’s true merits, abilities, or character. It is both interesting and significant that this word, along with the related noun prosōpolēmptēs (see Acts 10:34, “partiality”) and the verb prosōpolēmpteō (see James 2:9, “show partiality”) are found only in Christian writings. Perhaps that is because favoritism was such an accepted part of most ancient societies that it was assumed and not even identified, as it still is in many cultures today.

During His incarnation, Jesus was the glory and image of God in human form (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:4, 6; Phil. 2:6) and, like His Father, He showed no favoritism, a virtue even His enemies acknowledged. It made no difference to Jesus whether the one to whom He spoke or ministered was a wealthy Jewish leader or a common beggar, a virtuous woman or a prostitute, a high priest or a common worshiper, handsome or ugly, educated or ignorant, religious or irreligious, law-abiding citizen or criminal. His overriding concern was the condition of the soul. One day, John assures believers, “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). And while we are on earth, we should act just as He did when He was on earth.

God’s impartiality is reflected even in the genealogies of His Son, Jesus Christ. In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ descendants are shown to include such notable and godly believers as Abraham, David, Solomon, and Hezekiah (Matt. 1:1–2, 5–7, 10; Luke 3:31–32, 34). But also included are many otherwise obscure and common people, including the incestuous Tamar, the former prostitute Rahab, and Ruth, from the outcast Moabites (Matt. 1:3, 5). Jesus was not born in the great holy city of Jerusalem but in Bethlehem, of historical importance to Jews as the city of David but not at all comparable to Jerusalem in glory, and of total insignificance to the rest of the world. Jesus grew up in the Galilean town of Nazareth, whose poor reputation among most Jews is reflected in Nathanael’s comment to Philip: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). On another occasion some people commented about Jesus, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?” (John 7:41). Still others said, “Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee” (John 7:52). Onlookers at Pentecost “were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?’ ” (Acts 2:7).

The landowner who hired workers in Jesus’ parable sent them to begin working at various times throughout the day. At the end of the day the men discovered they were all being paid the same amount. But those who had worked all day complained that those who started work near the end of the day were paid the same as they were. The landowner “answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ ” Clearly recognizing the man’s right to do as he did, Jesus added, “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:13–16). Those who are saved in the last minutes of their lives will enjoy the same glories in heaven as those who have known and served the Lord faithfully for many years. The time of their salvation, like their wealth, fame, intelligence, social status, and other worldly measurements, will not be factors in their heavenly blessings. This wonderful story shows God’s impartiality in giving all the same eternal life.

In another parable, when some of the invited guests did not bother to show up at the wedding banquet given for his son, the king ordered his servants to “ ‘go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests” (Matt. 22:9–10). Jesus impartially calls all people to Himself; and if they have saving faith in Him, their being rich or poor, educated or ignorant, basically moral or grossly immoral, religious or irreligious, Jew or Gentile makes no difference (cf. Gal. 3:28). It was doubtless at least partly for that reason that “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37 kjv). Jesus went on to illustrate that it is not the amount of money a person gives to the Lord’s work but the heart intent of the giver by which God judges. As He and the disciples sat down in the temple opposite the treasury, “a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on’ ” (Mark 12:42–44).

The gospel is a great leveler, available with absolute equality to everyone who believes in the Savior it proclaims. Jesus’ promise to all those who trust in Him is: “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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30).

Tragically, many otherwise biblical and faithful churches today do not treat all their members the same. Frequently, those who are of a different ethnic background, race, or financial standing are not fully welcomed into fellowship. That ought not to be. It not only is a transgression of God’s divine law but is a mockery of His divine character.[1]

1 Once again James addresses his readers as “brothers” (1:2, 16, 19; 2:5, 14; 3:1, 10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9–10, 12, 19; see discussion at 1:2) and exhorts them, as followers of Christ, not to show favoritism. The NIV’s translation “as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism” the NASB renders more literally with “do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.” The idea of “holding the faith” has to do with a public posture of identifying oneself as a follower of Christ, and thus the NIV’s “as believers” serves the author’s intention. That Christ is “glorious” points to his manifestation of the presence of God, as seen in the shekinah glory of the OT (e.g., Ex 14:17–18; Ps 96:3; Isa 60:1–2), and passages in the NT relating to his exaltation and eschatological salvation. Consequently, James may use the qualifier here to point to Christ as the exalted Judge, “whose glory will be fully revealed in eschatological judgment” (so Davids, 107).

Therefore, one must not hold faith in him “with favoritism” (en prosōpolēmpsiais, GK 4721). The word translated “favoritism” speaks of the attitude of partiality by which one person is shown favor, or special consideration, over another. In the OT the concept often refers to unjust judgment against the vulnerable on the part of those in power (e.g., Ps 82:2; Pr 18:5; 24:23; 28:21; Mal 2:9–10; so Martin, 59; Nystrom, 114). Such an attitude is contrary to God’s way of dealing with people when he judges them (Ro 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25) and, therefore, inappropriate for his people. In the broader context of Leviticus 19:18, to which James turns momentarily (2:8), the law states, “Do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev 19:15). By his exhortation in 2:1, James implies that a public commitment to Christ, the Lord of glory, is incompatible with an attitude that degrades a fellow believer or puts the person at a disadvantage, for such an attitude runs contrary to God’s law.[2]

2:1 / My brothers recognizes the readers’ status as church members. Don’t show favoritism: Despite the fact that God shows no partiality (Deut. 10:17; Gal. 2:6), human beings who serve under his authority and supposedly copy his character must be continually warned against being partial (e.g., Deut. 1:17; Lev. 19:15; Ps. 82:2; Prov. 6:35; 18:5). A glance at who is elected to office in the church and who sits on denominational committees would quickly indicate that despite the very negative view Jesus took of wealth (e.g., Mark 10), James’ reproof is still relevant today. The church ought to show no partiality, no concern about the outward beauty, wealth, or power of a person.

This is demanded of us as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The only basis of the church is faith in a single Lord. Belief and commitment save rich and poor alike, and all pledge allegiance to a Lord whose life and teaching ignored, if not despised, worldly position. Furthermore, this Lord is living, exalted, glorious; he will return to manifest his glory and judge the world. Partiality is a violation of his character and an insult to him; it is therefore a serious sin.[3]

2:1. This verse commends Jesus as our glorious Lord Jesus Christ and warns that partiality against the poor is inconsistent with faith in Jesus Christ. My brothers shows that James wrote to his readers as believers and urged them to show the reality of their profession. Who is this Jesus?

First, Jesus is the object of our faith. We have made a trust or commitment to him. We are believers in Jesus.

Second, Jesus is the Lord of Glory. The Greek literally reads, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Glory.” James gave the title of “Glory” to Jesus, using a term that represents the full presentation of God’s presence and majesty. Jesus is the glorious God. This is a remarkable confession to come from Jesus’ half brother.

The practice of favoritism involved giving benefits to people who had outward advantages such as money, power, or social prominence. The readers of James were courting the favor of these important people by showing preference for them over the poor. The Mosaic Law had forbidden giving respect to persons of prominence (Deut. 1:17). To these scheming readers James gave a sharp directive, “Stop it!”[4]

1. My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.

The appeal is personal: “my brothers.” James uses this address rather frequently in his epistle, but here he is more specific. He calls the brothers “believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” The word believers is reminiscent of the beginning of the epistle, where James encourages the “brothers” to persevere in their faith (1:3). Now he tells them that they are believers in Jesus Christ. That is, he speaks of their personal subjective faith in Jesus—not of the faith that belongs to Jesus.

The writer places himself on a level with his readers and identifies with them when he says “our glorious Lord.” He and the readers look to Jesus, who dwells in glory.

What is the meaning of the expression our glorious Lord? In one of Paul’s epistles (1 Cor. 2:8) the expression Lord of glory occurs. This is identical to the reference to “the God of glory” in Stephen’s speech (Acts 7:2). Both titles are reminders of the glory of the Lord that settled upon and filled the tabernacle in the desert (Exod. 40:35). A possible interpretation is to take the words of glory and place them in apposition with Jesus Christ: “Jesus Christ, who is the glory, [that is,] of God.” This interpretation resembles John’s testimony about Jesus living among the disciples: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The descriptive adjective glorious in this passage demonstrates contrast between the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glitter of earthly riches. The brothers should not look at their fellow man and judge him merely by external appearance. Therefore, James admonishes his readers, “don’t show favoritism.” Don’t look at a person’s face, clothing, wealth, and position! Don’t be biased in your judgment! “A just judge must not be influenced by personal prejudices, hopes, or fears, but by the single desire to do justice.”

In the next verses of this section, James spells out the reasons Christians should not show favoritism: if you do, you will “become judges with evil thoughts” (v. 4); God looks at the heart, not at the external appearance of man (v. 5}; God has given man the law of loving one’s neighbor as oneself (v. 8); and last, “mercy triumphs over judgment!” (v. 13).[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 97–100). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 231–232). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (p. 56). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 280). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 70–72). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

March 19 Looking Out for Others’ Interests First

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4


The Lord wants us to have a general but sincere concern for the ministry interests of fellow Christians.

We live in a world that is preoccupied with special interests. On the national and international levels, interest groups push for public acceptance of their particular agendas. Likewise, on the local level most people care only about their own personal interests. They’re concerned about their jobs, their families, their hobbies, and perhaps their favorite sports team. In addition to those, if you’re a Christian, you will be concerned about your local church. But even there you can become focused only on your area of ministry.

In today’s verse, the apostle Paul cautions us, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests.” He is warning first of all that we shouldn’t see our personal activities and ministries as our only goals in life. When we become narrowly preoccupied with our own things, it can cause conflicts and other problems with people we know. Instead, God wants us to have a serious, caring involvement in some of the goals others are concerned about. And one way that will happen is if we take our eyes off ourselves and our concern for self–esteem in everything we do.

You may wonder exactly what Paul meant by the broad term “interests.” It is a nonspecific word that has several meanings and implications. It includes legitimate goals and responsibilities you have as a Christian, but it also extends to the same kinds of concerns others in your church and family will have. Their needs, tasks, gifts, character qualities, and ministries should be considered equal in importance to yours.

Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is calling us to pursue a high standard of Christian living, but the standard is worth pursuing. The more we understand the importance of fellow believers and that they need our prayer and concern, the less our fellowships will be plagued by unscriptural competitiveness and pride of personal interest.


Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you order your priorities today, so that you’ll have time for involvement in the concerns of a Christian friend or relative.

For Further Study: Read Luke 10:38–42. What was Martha’s attitude regarding the interests of her sister? ✧ What do Jesus’ words to Martha say about where our ultimate interest should lie?[1]

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


Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

—Deuteronomy 6:4

I am a unitarian in that I believe in the unity of God. I am a trinitarian in that I believe in the trinity of God. And they’re not contrary one to the other….

Now that’s what we believe, my brethren: we believe in the three Persons, but one God.

The three Persons are three, but the one God is One. And this we believe. So when I talk about God, I mean the three Persons of the Trinity. You can’t separate them—“not dividing the substance,” said these old fathers. You can’t have God the Father except you have God the Son; you can’t have God the Spirit unless you have the Father and the Son, “for the Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son” (see John 15:26). So when I’m talking about God, I’m talking about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—not confusing their Persons, for there are three Persons. But everything that is true of the Father is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And everything that is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit is true of the Father. Let’s get that settled before we go any further. AOGII019-021

Lord, I don’t completely understand the Trinity, but it is clearly taught in Scripture, and I will accept it because Your Word is truth. How awesome that You can be both three persons and yet one God! Amen.[1]

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

March 18 Daily Help

NO inferior hand hath sketched even so much as the most minute parts of providence. It was all marked out, designed, and planned by the mind of the all-wise, all-knowing God. Hence, not even Christ’s death was exempt from it. He that wings an angel and guides a sparrow, he that counts the hairs of our head, was not likely, when he took notice of such little things, to omit the greatest wonder of earth’s miracles, the death of Christ. No; the blood-stained page of that book, the page which makes both past and future glorious with golden words—that blood-stained page, I say, was as much written of Jehovah as any other.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 81). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 18, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them,” He then says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (10:15–17)

Finally, the new sacrifice of Christ is effective because it fulfills the promise of a New Covenant. In other words, the new sacrifice had to be made and had to be effective because God promised that it would be. The new sacrifice was central to the New Covenant, which God said would put His laws upon their heart, and upon their mind, and which would cause Him to forget their sins and their lawless deeds. The new sacrifice was effective, therefore, because it had to accomplish these things (prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33–34) in order for God to fulfill His promises, which cannot be broken.

Though the New Covenant was new, it was not a new revelation, but the fulfillment of an old one. Now that it had arrived, Jews, more than any others, should have welcomed it with unbounded joy and relief. The promise was not Jeremiah’s, but was God’s—the very witness of the Holy Spirit.

The readers were being put on the horns of a great dilemma, which they could not escape. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews, is saying, “You cannot accept the teaching of your own beloved prophet Jeremiah and yet reject the New Covenant he prophesied. You cannot accept one without the other.” To accept Jeremiah is to accept Jesus Christ. To reject Jesus Christ is to reject Jeremiah (not to mention the many other prophets who spoke of the Messiah) and to reject the Holy Spirit Himself.[1]

The Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb. 10:15–18)

Some of the most memorable passages in all the Bible are those that serve as conclusions to great doctrinal portions of Scripture. Probably the two most famous come from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. In chapter 8 Paul sums up his systematic exposition of the doctrine of salvation with a great and well-loved statement of Christian assurance: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). From that high plateau Paul then goes upward into the doctrine of God and his sovereignty in chapters 9–11, climaxing with this great conclusion: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!… For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33–36).

Perhaps Hebrews 10 lacks the sheer eloquence of those great conclusions. In fact, the absence of that kind of rhetorical flourish is one of many indicators that the apostle Paul did not write Hebrews. Yet we have in this passage another great conclusion. If it is not great in its prose, then it is great in its ideas, great in terms of the magnitude and significance of the argument it brings to a close.

A Great Statement

The central doctrinal section of Hebrews began in chapter 7. In this lengthy exposition the writer has compared Christ and his priestly work to the whole sacrificial system of the old covenant. He showed that Christ is superior as priest to Aaron and his successors and better when compared to Melchizedek, who came before. He showed in chapter 8 that Christ’s covenant is better than the old one in Moses, and in chapter 9 that Christ’s blood is better than that of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. John Calvin rightly observes: “There is, indeed, no book in Holy Scripture which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, which so highly exalts the virtue and dignity of that only true sacrifice which He offered by His death, which so abundantly deals with the use of ceremonies as well as their abrogation, and, in a word, so fully explains that Christ is the end of the Law.”

In concluding this great argument, our present verses drive home the lesson the writer has been hoping to teach, namely, that while the old covenant offered no real solution for sin, Christ’s priestly work in the new covenant successfully and sufficiently solves this great problem of all mankind:

Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb. 10:11–14)

These verses may not have all the eloquence of Romans 8, or the soaring prose of Paul’s doxology in Romans 11, but they deliver the most wonderful good news ever heard by the ears of men. Indeed, all of redemptive history, from the time when God clothed guilty Adam and Eve with the skins of the slain animal at the gate of the garden; to Abraham receiving a ram to be slain in the place of his son Isaac upon Mount Moriah; to the Israelites in the time of Moses, spreading the lamb’s blood on their doorposts lest the angel of death should come in; to generation after generation of Israel, with the priests slaying thousands and millions of lambs and goats and bulls, sacrifices the writer of Hebrews insists could never have atoned for one human sin—all of that history had craned its neck to hear words such as these, had waited with bated breath, had cried with bitter tears, “How long, O Lord, how long!” to hear words like these. Where is the lamb? Where is the true sacrifice? Where is the real atonement that will not merely place an ill-fitting lid on the boiling cauldron of sin, but actually exhaust the fury of God’s wrath and justice against it? Where is, as John the Baptist said upon spying the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)? Hebrews 10:11–14 proclaims the one true sacrifice that takes away our sins and makes us holy.

The primary purpose that motivated this letter was to warn the Hebrew Christians not to fall back into the ways of the old covenant. They were experiencing persecution—either from the Jewish community or the Roman authorities, or both—and the pressure made a denial of Christ in favor of Judaism a tempting option. But these verses sum up the whole of his revulsion at such a thought. What? he might say, return to a religion, a priesthood, a covenant, that despite all the labor, all the activity, all the blood and sweat and tears “can never take away sins” (Heb. 10:11)? It is unimaginable folly, despite the worldly pain of persecution for the sake of Christ, to go from forgiveness and peace and real access to God, back to the old situation of sin and its dreadful alienation. By his one and finished sacrifice, Christ has put away sin and made holy all who hold fast to him. No earthly prize is of such value; no worldly sacrifice is too great for such gain.

This was an overwhelming argument for the first-century Hebrew Christian, fretfully wondering if fidelity to Christ was worth the cost. But it speaks just as powerfully to people today, fretfully considering the claims of Christ and the cost of discipleship. Whether we are on the doorstep of faith or the exit ramp of unbelief, what we find in these verses is equally significant. What do verses 11–14 tell us, but that in Christ we have not mere religion, but salvation? We do not have ritual and tradition, but spiritual reality and power. We have not warm sentiments, not moral self-help, but the forgiveness of our sins by the work of the Savior, and power for holiness from a heavenly Lord.

Here is the great statement that makes this a great conclusion: Jesus Christ has done upon the cross what no priest of Israel could ever have done, and what no worldly religion can ever achieve today. For both the Hebrew Christian in danger of abandoning Christ and today’s fence-sitting doubter in danger of passing by the one and true salvation, these verses sound a clanging gospel bell: there are a true sacrifice for our forgiveness and a priest reigning in heaven to make us into what we were created to be. If we hear and believe, we gain the right to sing the gospel hymn with joy:

My God is reconciled;

his pardoning voice I hear;

he owns me for his child,

I can no longer fear;

with confidence I now draw nigh,

with confidence I now draw nigh,

and “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.

A Great Transition

Hebrews 10:11–18 is not only a conclusion, but also a transitional passage, setting the stage for the outstanding applications that follow in the rest of this epistle. It does this through the use of an expression we have encountered numerous times already, the phrase “made perfect.” This phrase occurs in verse 14 for the seventh out of nine times in the Book of Hebrews: “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” In earlier chapters it mainly referred to Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 2:10 we read that “it was fitting that he … in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” As we observed at the time, the point is not that Jesus was ever less than perfect in his person, but rather that the experiences of his life and death perfected him—prepared him or qualified him—for his office and work as Redeemer. Hebrews 5:8–9 elaborates on this same point, stating, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

These statements regarding the perfecting of Jesus Christ present the main doctrinal point of Hebrews, namely, his perfect and unique fitness to put away our sins, both as perfect sacrifice and as perfect priest. Once this point has been made, the writer of Hebrews then uses the same phrase, “made perfect,” in reference to what God intends for believers. Indeed, the last four uses of this expression, beginning in chapter 10, all refer to believers. Hebrews 10:1 complains that the old covenant “can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” Verse 14 says that Christ, by his one sacrifice, “has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Later on we will consider the great statement of Christian worship that is found in Hebrews 12:18–24, in which believers in heaven are described as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:23).

This is what unfolds in the flow of Hebrews. Christ was made perfect in his role as Savior and High Priest for the church in order to sit at God’s right hand—this is the first half—so that we would be made perfect in him for our role as worshiping priests in heaven before the very throne of God—this is the second half. This is the macrostructure of redemption as taught in the Book of Hebrews.

A Great Reality

It is important that we understand the concepts and the terms in this passage. The Greek word translated as “made perfect” (teteleiōken) might also be rendered as “made complete,” “finished,” or “made fitting.” This is how it was used in reference to Jesus. When applied to us, it is used almost synonymously with the idea of sanctification. We see this conjunction of ideas in Hebrews 10:14, where believers are “made perfect” and “are being made holy.”

The basic meaning of holiness is “set apart.” Things that are made holy are taken out of a profane category and placed into a sacred or holy category. This was undoubtedly on the writer’s mind because of the priestly context. Just as the vessels of the temple were holy, set apart for sacred service, so too believers are set apart for the service of God.

In this sense, holiness emphasizes status or position. It is not our character, not our intrinsic holiness that sets us apart for God and to God. Far from it! Verse 10 emphasizes that we “have been sanctified” or “made holy” by the cross. We have received this status and holy position by the work of Christ.

But holiness also carries the idea of conformity to God’s character. Holy things are to be kept pure; their purity is fitting for their holy status. If we, therefore, have been made holy by Christ, God’s purpose is that we will now conform to his holy character. This is put very strikingly by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:29, where he states that we were saved, even predestined, “to be conformed to the image of [God’s] Son.”

Another way to get at this is to follow the tenses of the verbs in Hebrews 10. We have here the past, the present, and the future. First, there was a past completed action: “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). The verbs “offered” and “sat down” occur in the past tense. They are in the Greek aorist tense, which here signifies a completed past action.

Verse 14 tells us the effect of Christ’s work and uses a different tense, the perfect tense: “By a single offering he has perfected” us. The perfect tense signifies a completed past action that has an ongoing effect into the present and future. Something of vital significance has happened, and its effects continue now and forever. Here the effect is that we have been made perfect. Finally, we have a present participle: “those who are being sanctified.” This signifies a present activity that continues into the future.

Putting these verbs together, we have an event that took place in the past, that is finished and completed—the sacrificial death of Christ, along with his subsequent resurrection and enthronement as heavenly high priest. This has implications and results that come forward to us—we have been made perfect in his perfection. Finally, there is a present process—we are therefore being made holy. That is to say, we are being transformed into what we have been made.

The key to all of this is the perfect tense and the statement “he has perfected” us. The perfect tense is vital to Christianity as to no other religion. No other faith rests upon the present power of past events, namely, the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why Christianity alone is good news. It is a gospel because it presents news of great events that changed everything once and for all. What has happened to Christ makes our salvation possible and real. If Christ’s death has not happened, we are damned in our sins; but if it has happened—and it has!—we who believe are saved with great joy, secure in him forever.

This has important implications for our view of the Christian life. Our sanctification has a once-for-all as well as an ongoing sense. It is “already” as well as “not yet.” A popular Christian bumper sticker says, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven,” but in an important sense this is not true! In the eyes of God you have been made perfect because you are in Christ; you are a beneficiary of his perfection. Of course, there is a process that is not yet complete, but a Christian’s sanctification is so certain of achievement that it is now viewed as accomplished: “You have been made perfect.”

The present tense of Christianity is always linked to and rests upon the past tense of Christ’s finished work. Christianity says to believers, “Because he died you have died in him. Because he arose, you are alive in him. Because he is made perfect, you are made perfect in him.” As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “[God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

These realities, however, are not abstracted from our present life. What we have been made in the heavenlies is not unrelated to what we must become on the earth. The Christian rule is this: we are to be what we are in Christ. Since we have been made perfect in Christ, we are now becoming holy in practical ways. Holiness is our established destiny, and so it is becoming our present reality. If this cannot be said of us as individuals, our claim to be in Christ at all is challenged.

To return to the thought world of Hebrews, we think of Israel’s high priest wearing a golden plate on his turban that read “Holy to the Lord.” That same designation has been applied to us by Jesus Christ. We are perfect, fit, complete. This is our identity, our destiny, our reality. It is the spiritual gravity of every Christian’s life to which we are being pulled and shaped and sometimes shoved by the Spirit of God living within us. We cannot escape it, and if we do, that simply bears testimony that we are not in Christ at all. Those who possess faith in Christ simply cannot go on living as they did before. We are different because of what has happened—not by a power that is from us, but a power that is from heaven, where Christ reigns for us and in us.

Hebrews 10:15–17 looks back on the new covenant, already examined in chapter 8, to highlight both the external and the internal, the objective and the subjective aspects of our salvation: “And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’ then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more’ ” (Heb. 10:15–17). God has forgiven our sins (v. 17)—this relates to justification. It is external and objective. He has put his law in our hearts and written it upon our minds (v. 16)—this is sanctification, and it is internal and subjective. Salvation is a definitive act of God whereby he forgives our sins forever and accepts us in Christ. But it is also a lifelong process of deliverance from the power of sin and the coming of new life that is “after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

I can think of nothing more thrilling than this, that I will become perfect, “like God in true holiness.” I will become perfect as the creature God intended me to be. I will become perfect in the bearing of his image in conformity to Christ. I will be perfect in fruit, perfect in worship, and perfect in thought, word, and deed. It is staggering to my mind, so foreign is this to my actual present experience! And yet this, because of what Christ has done for me, is my reality, and not what is now seen in me. This is what is true and real for all believers in Christ. We will be perfect in glory—the glory that comes from him and reflects back to the praise of his name. The very thought of this should create in us a great appetite for practical holiness, with dread of and loathing for sin. If we have grasped only a portion of this truth, if we have laid hold of a fragment of our true identity in Christ, we will no longer live as we have.

A Great Comparison

These great truths are all focused on the one great comparison that is driven home in the Book of Hebrews. By now we are familiar with it: a comparison between Israel’s priests and the perfect high priest, Jesus Christ. There in all his futility stands the priest of the old covenant, day after day offering the same sacrifices over and over, reminding us of, but unable to repair, the terrible problem of sin. Hebrews 10:11 sounds the familiar refrain that the old priests and their sacrifices “can never take away sins.” The entire picture is one of futility, fatigue, and frustration. The greatest possible contrast is presented when we then consider the effectual work of the true high priest, Jesus Christ: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:12–14).

One commentator puts the contrast in these striking terms:

The priest of the Old Testament stands timid and uneasy in the holy place, anxiously performing his awful service there, and hastening to depart when the service is done, as from a place where he has no free access, can never feel at home; whereas Christ sits down in everlasting rest and blessedness at the right hand of Majesty in the holy of holies, His work accomplished, and He awaiting its reward.

Christ’s sacrifice was not offered over and over, but once for all, and in this we see the sufficiency of his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The resulting situation could not stand in greater contrast with that of the old covenant priests. William Barclay writes: “The priests stand offering sacrifice; Christ sits at the right hand of God. Theirs is the position of a servant; his is the position of a monarch. Jesus is the king come home, his task accomplished and his victory won.” And Andrew Murray rightly exclaims, “The once of Christ’s work is the secret of its being forever: the more clear the acceptance of that divine once for all, the more sure the experience of that divine forever.… His forever is one of victory, and of the blessed expectation of its full manifestation.”

Christ is seated in the heavens. His work is accomplished, established, inevitable. Our author is wrapping up all his great ideas, here returning to the theme in chapter 1, that Christ has been exalted with almighty power as he rules over history for the church.

Christ is seated and enthroned, in a position of rest like that of God on the seventh day of creation. It is a rest of sovereignty, of omnipotent rule, control, and confidence. This has the most horrible implications for Christ’s enemies: for the devil and the demons, and also for every sinner who rejects his claims. He is “waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Heb. 10:13). Unbelievers may deny him, mock him, and exult in their apparent freedom from his lordly rule. But all the while he sits enthroned, with history racing toward the judgment over which he will reign supreme.

Meanwhile, this has wonderful and life-transforming implications for all who trust in him. Verse 12 tells us he is seated; verse 13 adds that he is waiting as this present age runs its course; and verse 14 tells us why he can afford to wait: “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Verse 18 concludes our passage, indeed, the whole great doctrinal portion of the Book of Hebrews, with the same great idea. Where sins have been forgiven, “there is no longer any offering for sin.” There is no longer any labor for the Savior, and no longer any threat to the salvation of those who look to him in faith. Jesus can rest enthroned, waiting for the day of his final triumph; we, too, can rest through faith in him, as we await his return in glory.

A Great Conclusion

This is the great conclusion to the main doctrinal instruction of the Book of Hebrews. From here we will move forward to the wealth of applications in the final chapters, including the examples of faith in chapter 11. We are far from finished with the Book of Hebrews. Yet here we stand at the conclusion of this great doctrinal teaching. How then shall we conclude our own reflections on these matters?

There can be only one answer, and that is to draw our thoughts and our hearts, our whole spiritual orientation, upward to where Jesus Christ sits now enthroned, reigning with power for our salvation, having accomplished everything needed for us to be saved. He is at the center of it all, above it all; he is the meaning of everything we have considered in the Book of Hebrews. The tabernacle and temple were about him and his work. The priests and the rituals of the Old Testament served only to point to him. The blood that was shed year after year and day after day spoke only of his blood, shed once for all upon the cross. The veil that was torn invites our gaze into the heavens, where now our Savior sits at rest, reigning for his own, securing us for himself forever, and ruling our hearts by the Spirit he sends. Everything points to him; everything is found in and with him; everything for us comes from him and draws us to him as his people, his own reward for obedience to the will of the Father.

This is the great conclusion we must draw from the teaching of Hebrews. It must be the profession of our faith. And Christ must be the great affection of our hearts. To know him and serve him, to grow in his likeness, must become the great ambition of all our lives.[2]

15–17 In returning to the key text of this section, the author does not feel the need to quote it in full, as he did in 8:8–12, but singles out what are for him the salient points in an abbreviated quotation (with some further variation in the wording) from Jeremiah 31:33–34. He signals his abbreviation by separating v. 33 (quoted in v. 16) from v. 34c (in v. 17) by his introductory formulae, which are literally (and awkwardly) “For after saying” and simply “and.” He seems to have lost track of the grammatical structure of his quotation formulae, with the result that there is in fact no main verb; but most English versions (and several later Greek manuscripts and versions) have helped him out by supplying one (or even two, as in the NIV’s “First he says.… Then he adds”!).

In 8:8 the quotation was introduced simply by “he says,” and we were left to assume (as the repeated “declares the Lord” within the quotation confirms) that the speaker was understood to be God. Here the author is more explicit, attributing this prophecy to the Holy Spirit, as he did with both Psalm 95 (3:7) and the Day of Atonement regulations (9:8). We noted in regard to the quotations in ch. 1 (see comments at Overview, 1:4–14; see also Introduction, p. 28), and have been reminded several times since, that our author regards God (or the Holy Spirit; it does not seem to matter which) as the real author of all Scripture, whether recorded as a divine utterance or not. In this case, that assumption is supported by the prophetic character of the passage and by the formula “says the Lord.” The words of Scripture are, as usual, spoken of not merely as a past revelation but as the continuing witness of the Spirit “to us” in the present.

The point of reintroducing Jeremiah’s prophecy here is to underline the nature of the “perfection” and “holiness” achieved by Christ’s unique sacrifice. The final solution for the problem of human sin, which had eluded the sacrificial system under which the old covenant operated, is in the inward transformation of God’s people and in a cleansing from sin that leaves them not merely “outwardly clean” (9:13) but inwardly restored to fellowship with God by having their sins not only forgiven but also forgotten, and thus finally “taken away” (v. 11).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 256–257). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 343–353). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 131–132). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.