Daily Archives: March 24, 2018

March 24: Green Pastures: They Require Action

Numbers 28:1–31; 1 Corinthians 10:23–11:16; Psalm 23

Love and complete reliance on God are interrelated concepts. When we discover what love really means, we want to praise God for it. When we learn to rely on God for all our needs, we see just how loving He is as He takes care of all aspects of our lives. And this love makes us want to show love to others.

It’s those who don’t have who are most apt to come to Jesus. They’re most in need of love. For this reason, it’s hard for us who do have—a home, a car, enough food for a week—to fully understand reliance on Christ. It takes a different type of discipline.

This is why it’s still shocking to me how many people absolutely love Psa 23. It’s comforting, I suppose, and that’s why: “Yahweh is my shepherd; I will not lack for anything. In grassy pastures he makes me lie down; by quiet waters he leads me” (Psa 23:1–2). I think so many of us love it, though, because we’re aware of how frail and vulnerable we really are. It could all be gone in a moment. Disease catches up to us, and death will eventually get us all. We often forget just how important love is in all this, and we fail to recognize why Psa 23 has a special place in our hearts.

We are in the top percentile of wealth in the world. Many of our families own more than one car. Nonetheless, the death around us and the diseases we see show just how quickly it can be gone. And for this reason, we can recognize how crucial love is. Love carries people through hard times. It brings them to depend on God. Paul tells us we could have all sorts of incredible spiritual gifts, but if we don’t have love, there’s no point (1 Cor 13:1, 13).

And when Paul speaks about love, he’s not talking about something we say or even feel; he’s talking about something we do. Love requires us to give all things; or in Paul’s words, it “rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:6–7). So, those of us who understand relying on Psa 23, even in our wealth, must help those who rely on its promises but are yet to experience them. They are people all over the world, waiting for us to “bear” their burdens with them. They are the hurting, the voiceless—the people who need us to show real love.

How can you show love to the hurting and voiceless in the world today? God has called us all to action—that is what love means. So how will you act?

John D. Barry[1]


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

March 24 Receiving God’s Provisions

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

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God is glorified when He meets your needs.

In America, praying for our daily bread hardly seems necessary. Most people need to pray for self-control to avoid overeating! But Matthew 6:11 isn’t talking about food only. It is a statement of dependency on God and an acknowledgment that He alone provides all of life’s basic necessities.

Sad to say, however, many people today have reduced prayer to a means of self-fulfillment. Recently a woman sent me a booklet and wrote, “I don’t think you understand the true resource we have in prayer. You should read this booklet.” The booklet repeatedly emphasized our right as Christians to demand things from God. But that misses the point of prayer altogether, which is to glorify God (John 14:13). We are to give God the privilege of revealing His glory by meeting our needs in whatever way He chooses. If we demand things of Him, we are likely to become frustrated or to question Him when we don’t get what we want. That’s a serious sin!

David G. Myers, in his book The Human Puzzle (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), said: “Some petitionary prayers seem not only to lack faith in the inherent goodness of God but also to elevate humankind to a position of control over God. God, the Scriptures remind us, is omniscient and omnipotent, the sovereign ruler of the universe. For Christians to pray as if God were a puppet whose strings they yank with their prayers seems not only potentially superstitious but blasphemous as well. When prayer is sold as a device for eliciting health, success, and other favors from a celestial vending machine, we may wonder what is really being merchandised. Is this faith or is it faith’s counterfeit, a glib caricature of true Christianity?”

Guard your prayers! Always be aware of the enormous privilege you have to approach the infinite God and to receive His gracious provisions. Yet, always do so with His glory as your highest goal.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Proverbs 30:8–9. What attitude toward God do those verses convey? Is that your attitude in prayer?

For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:19–34 and James 4:3. How might you respond to someone who says Christians have the right to demand favors from God?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 96). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 24 “BORN OF GOD!”

By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place.

Hebrews 9:12

I think most of us remember with assurance the words of the Charles Wesley hymn which was his own personal testimony:

His Spirit answers to the blood,

And tells me I am born of God!

Wesley testified here and in many other hymns to an inner illumination!

When I became a Christian, no one had to come to me and tell me what Wesley meant. That is why Jesus taught that whosoever is willing to do His will shall have a revelation in his own heart. He shall have an inward revelation that tells him he is a child of God.

Too many persons try to make Jesus Christ a convenience. They reduce Him simply to a Big Friend who will help us when we are in trouble.

That is not biblical Christianity! Jesus Christ is Lord, and when an individual comes in repentance and faith, the truth flashes in. For the first time he finds himself saying, “I will do the will of the Lord, even if I die for it!”

Lord, I pray today for friends and family who may be questioning their relationship with You. Draw them to Yourself, Heavenly Father.[1]


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

The Republicans Are Still Funding The Abortion Industry Because They Are Cowardly Buffoons

Trump signed the bill.

(Matt Walsh – Dailywire, 3/22/18) “They passed tax reform. Hooray. Who cares? My money is funding the mass execution of human children. They haven’t done anything about that. They haven’t really tried. They are frauds. They are cowards.”

Republicans in the House passed a trillion-dollar spending bill yesterday. It fully funds Planned Parenthood. Another half a billion dollars to an organization that slaughters 300,000 babies a year. The GOP is now well into its second year in power — controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency — and Planned Parenthood is still making hundreds of millions of dollars from the taxpayers.

This is our “pro-life” party. It is a party so “pro-life” that it will obediently bow before the abortion industry, reach into your wallet, and give your money to mass murderers. Strange, this version of “pro-life.” It seems like a truly pro-life party would view the tax-funding of genocidal butchers as the second greatest injustice in the world, the first being the genocidal butchery itself. It seems like a pro-life party would stop at nothing to put an end to such a travesty. It seems like a pro-life party would make this its top priority.

It seems like we have no pro-life party at all.

Don’t give them any excuses. They could defund Planned Parenthood. They could if they really wanted. They could abolish the filibuster and force the issue. They have a moral obligation to force the issue. It is not morally acceptable to be complicit in the funding of baby killers. It is even less acceptable to actively facilitate it. It is, in fact, deeply depraved and evil. But that is what the Republican Party is doing. View article →

Source: The Republicans Are Still Funding The Abortion Industry Because They Are Cowardly Buffoons

Republicans Clarify That By ‘Defund Planned Parenthood’ They Meant ‘Give Them $500 Million Every Year’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a speech celebrating the signing into law of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill Friday, Republican President Donald Trump took a moment to clarify that by consistently repeating on the campaign trail that they would “defund Planned Parenthood,” he, as well as congressional Republicans, actually meant that they would “continue giving Planned Parenthood […]

The post Republicans Clarify That By ‘Defund Planned Parenthood’ They Meant ‘Give Them $500 Million Every Year’ appeared first on The Babylon Bee.

Is a Corrupt Globalist Billionaire Influencing America’s Reformed Community?

[Editor’s Note: This is part 1 in a series that will explain how James Riady, a corrupt and felonious Globalist financier, is influencing America’s Reformed community. Part 1 will give a brief overview of Riady’s past, continued corruption and problematic leftist ties, and explain Riady’s influence over American Reformed leaders and American religious institutions]

INTRODUCTION

I, like many of you, have seen a hard-left turn in American evangelicalism. As a Reformed believer within American evangelicalism, I have seen that Calvinists have not been immune to this turn. In fact, it seems as though the Reformed community (or a pseudo-Reformed subset known as “New Calvinism”) has been leading the way in Marxist thought, Globalism, and Social Justice. This has left me asking the question as to whether or not the left-turn among America’s Reformed community has been a natural product of shifting economic theory and political ideology or if something more sinister is at play. Is it possible that the Marxist-Globalist alliance has been intentionally buying its way into Reformed American evangelicalism, and purchasing theological stock in the growing movement? Is it possible that, like many others, the powers-that-be have seen the massive tidal wave of the Reformed Resurgence and determined it’s a suitable vehicle to advance their agenda? Is it possible that well-meaning Reformed leaders have been “useful idiots” for Global powers far greater than they could imagine?

If you’re paying attention, you’ve seen that the Gospel Coalition is not a religious organization, but a political one. The organization is heavily influenced by economic and cultural Marxists like its founder, Tim Keller. Along with its sister organization, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (which is not officially wed, but shares writers, content-producers, and board members) of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Gospel Coalition’s greatest influence has been in convincing the mainstream of Reformed evangelicals that “Social Justice” is somehow a Gospel issue.

When I discovered that George Soros, the billionaire Globalist financier, had been financing the Evangelical Immigration Table – on which serves the ERLC’s Russell Moore (who has also promoted Soros material from the SBC’s social media platforms), I began to wonder if other Globalist billionaires were similarly influencing America’s Reformed evangelicals. What I found was eye-opening.

While it sounds conspiratorial, history has demonstrated that Communists were heavily involved in influencing Liberation Theology in the Americas and successfully infiltrated American churches in the 1950s and 1960s. It has happened before. Could it be happening again?

Go along with me on this ride, and presume that we’re all wearing tin-foil hats for sheer fashion…until you see the evidence yourself.

JAMES RIADY, THE EVANGELICAL FELON

James Riady’s networth is nearly three billion dollars and his family is among the top ten wealthiest Indonesians (source link). In a series of posts, Pulpit & Pen seeks to examine the influence of Riady – a globalist and Marxist – and his money among America’s evangelicals, and primarily among Reformed evangelicals. Is it possible that the Social Justice, economic and Cultural Marxism, and open borders globalism of The Gospel Coalition, the ERLC and other New Calvinist organizations is significantly influenced by the long-time Bill and Hillary Clinton ally?

James Riady was sent to the United States by his wealthy father in 1977 to set up a banking presence in the United States (source link). His father, Mochtar, was also interested in helping Bert Lance – Jimmy Carter’s one-time budget director – sell some problematic bank stock in the National Bank of Georgia (source link). By 1983, James had set up his father’s  Lippo Finance & Investment Inc., a name which would help create major political scandal for Bill Clinton. The Riadys had set up Stephens Finance LTD with Jackson Stephens of Arkansas. The two (Stephens and Lippo Finance and Investment Inc., with James Riady as bank director) purchased shares in Worthen Banking Corporation (source link). In 1985,  Worthen was investigated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for giving more than a million-dollars-worth of illegal loans to companies owned by the Riadys and the Stephens’, as well as to Liem Sioe Liong, another Indonesian billionaire (source link).

It’s during this period of time that Riady became close with then-governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. Now, let’s fast-forward.

James Riady with Bill and Hillary Clinton

When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, one of his closest financial contributors was James Riady, flush with cash both from Indonesia and from banking activities in the United States that would later be prosecuted (successfully) as criminal. Riady would go on to visit the White House more than 20 times, met privately with Clinton in the Oval Office at least three times, and is on the record urging Clinton to open more trade with China (source link). His concern was economic, and wanted to continue giving Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to a country responsible for persecuting Christians and denying its Citizens basic human rights. Riady’s chief banking executive went to work for Clinton, raising dubious amounts of cash from dubious foreign sources. In a few short years, the Riady family and the Lippo group had given $475 thousand dollars to Clinton, and raised hundreds of thousands from international sources in South Korea and a Buddhist temple in California (source link). This eventually led to the “Clinton Fundraising Scandal,” after-which Riady was fined 8.6 million dollars in 2001 and earned him the title of some as “The Evangelical Felon” (source link). Riady plead guilty to conspiracy and was banned from the United States for two years, and included admission of a felony and 86 misdemeanors by Riady’s Lippo group (source link). Famed New York Times journalist, William Shaffire, claimed that Riady was tied to Chinese Intelligence, a claim that has now been well substantiated (source link). Even after Riady became a Christian in 1990, he has continued to act feloniously, court the political clout from the Clinton camp, and is still regularly donating tons of cash to two sources, Globalist causes in one way or another associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton and to primarily Reformed Christian causes, as we will demonstrate.

Although banned from the country, Riady came twice to the United States in 2009 when Hillary Clinton gave Riady a visa waiver through the Obama State Department. It’s worth noting that the State Department under President George W. Bush denied Riady entry (source link). Wikileaks revealed that Riady had given cash to the Clinton Foundation and financed the “Asia Climate group” in 2011 (source link). It’s highly suspected that Riady purchased the Lippo group’s government-instituted monopoly of the mineral market, which in turn would benefit Red China, and so much so, that President Donald Trump has ordered Ryan Zinke – Secretary of the Interior – to examine whether or not Bill Clinton’s National Monument declarations (which stopped mineral production in important formations in Utah) were in fact influenced by money from Riady and the Lippo group (source link). It is highly suspected that Lippo China Resources – run by James Riady’s brother, Stephen – made the move to purchase the debt of the CS Mining company, which would give it practical ownership – in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s then-imminent presidency, believing that Clinton would allow the company the exclusive rights to mine the federal land (source link), even though it would plunder American minerals to the benefit of no one but China and the Riadys would pose a significant national security risk to the United States (source link). In fact, the infamous “Podesta email leak” reveals that Riady paid the Clintons 20 thousand dollars to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2016 (source link), demonstrating that Riady continues to fund Globalism and the Clintons until this very day.

JAMES RIADY, THE REFORMED EVANGELICAL SUGAR DADDY

Riady senior reportedly came to faith in Christ in 1986 after attending a retreat hosted by Indonesian megachurch pastor and head of the Reformed Evangelical Church in Indonesia (source link), Stephen Tong. Tong pastors the Messiah Cathedral, and has an endowment at Westminster Theological Seminary (Pennsylvania) creating the “Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology” at the institution in 2011 (source link). Tong was also given an honorary degree by Westminster (source link) in 2008. In spite of their conversions, neither James Riady nor his father have joined Tong’s church, but Tong pronounced the elder Riady a “sincere Christian” because he confessed himself a sinner (source link). They do, however, help collect the offering and help manage the finances (source link).

James Riady is the financial benefactor and co-founder of the Pelita Harapan Foundation (source link), a Reformed school on whose board sits Riady’s wife, Aileen and whose director is James’ youngest daughter, Minny (source link), and currently has more than 16 thousand students. It is through this organization that some of the biggest names in Reformed American evangelicalism are regularly flown to break bread with the Riadys and be wined-and-dined by their Indonesian benefactors, who have contributed large dollars to their institutions. In fact, The Gospel Coalition has encouraged their readership to yoke themselves with the Riady’s institution (source link).

While donating millions of dollars to the Clintons and millions more to Globalist causes, the Riadys have also donated heavily to various religious institutions in America, including Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Mississippi and maintains partnerships with those institutions (source link). The RTS newsletter is replete with documentation of the relationship between the Riadys and that institution (source link).

While the precise number of dollars donated to religious institutions in America from the Riady family is unknown, a good example of how they have purchased their influence can be found in Ouachita Baptist University, a school belonging to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The university’s president in 2010, Rex Horne (former pastor of President Bill Clinton), eagerly recieved Riady for a visit to discuss receiving funds from his Indonesian foundation (source link). Ouachita Baptist University then gave Riady an unannounced honorary degree in 2004, and refused to tell the press how much money Riady had donated to their scholarship fund (source link). While RTS, Westminster, and Ouachita Baptist have all chosen not to disclose the amount of funds received from Riady, the University of Melbourne was paid by Raidy about 1.5 million to name a chair in his honor (source link), which might indicate a “going rate.”

Riady has also donated to and received degrees from other conservative evangelical churches, which typically have the opposite political worldview of the Globalist Riady family. This will be further explained in additional reporting.

In spite of the Riady family’s committment to Globalism, in spite of the millions of dollars in support for Bill Clinton’s campaign and then Bill and Hillary Clinton’s foundation, in spite of his dishonorable treatment of the American political system and his felonious economic behavior, and in spite of his continued attempts to coup American resources through corrupt political and economic dealings, America’s Reformed leaders still regularly flock to Riady in support.

Ligon Duncan is the Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. Aileen Riady is the wife of James Riady.

Duncan and RTS are not the only ones. There are many, many more. How much money has been given to Reformed leaders, and exactly how much influence is the corrupt Globalist financier buying in the American Reformed community?

More to come.

The post Is a Corrupt Globalist Billionaire Influencing America’s Reformed Community?appeared first on Pulpit & Pen.

William Lane Craig discusses faith and reason with university students

WINTERY KNIGHT

William Lane Craig lecturing to university students William Lane Craig lecturing to university students

This is an interview of Dr. William Lane Craig before college students at the University of Central Florida. (95 minutes)

Questions from the interviewer: (40 minutes)

  • What started you on his journey of studying faith and reason?
  • How would you define the word “faith”?
  • Are faith and reason compatible? How are they related?
  • How can reasonable faith help us to avoid the two extremes of superstition and nihilism?
  • Who makes the best arguments against the Christian faith?
  • Why are angry atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens more well known than better-informed academic atheists?
  • Does the Bible require Christians to give the unbeliever reasons for their faith?
  • How does faith spur Christians to think carefully about the big questions in life?
  • Should the American church prod churchgoers to develop their minds so they can engage the secular culture?
  • When talking about Christianity intellectually, is there…

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After years of inquiries, Willow Creek pastor denies misconduct allegations

(Manya Brachear Pashman and Jeff Coen – Chicago Tribune) “Many of the women who spoke with the Tribune were loath to come forward for fear of betraying a man who had encouraged their leadership in a way that no other pastor had before and undermining a ministry that has transformed thousands of lives. But when they heard there were other women who had similar stories to tell, even in the last year, they said their silence could not last.”

Last October, the Rev. Bill Hybels stood before worshippers at his packed sanctuary and made a stunning announcement. After 42 years building northwest suburban Willow Creek Community Church into one of the nation’s most iconic and influential churches, Hybels was planning to step down as senior pastor.

“I feel released from this role,” he said, adding that he felt called to build on Willow Creek’s reach across 130 countries with a focus on leadership development, particularly in the poorest regions of the world.

After introducing his successors, he invited church elders onstage at the expansive church to lay hands on them and pray.

What much of the church didn’t know was that Hybels had been the subject of inquiries into claims that he ran afoul of church teachings by engaging in inappropriate behavior with women in his congregation — including employees — allegedly spanning decades. The inquiries had cleared Hybels, and church leaders said his exit had nothing to do with the allegations.

An investigation by the Chicago Tribune examined those allegations and other claims of inappropriate behavior by Hybels, documented through interviews with current and former church members, elders and employees, as well as hundreds of emails and internal records.

The alleged behavior included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to hotel rooms. It also included an allegation of a prolonged consensual affair with a married woman who later said her claim about the affair was not true, the Tribune found.

Elders of the church — appointed members who oversee Willow Creek’s administration and pastor — had conducted the reviews after claims about Hybels came to their attention more than four years ago.

Pushing for the investigation were two former teaching pastors and the wife of a longtime president of the Willow Creek Association, a nonprofit organization related to the church. Some of those pressing for more scrutiny say the church’s prior investigation had shortcomings in their opinion and at least three leaders of the association’s board resigned over what they believed was an insufficient inquiry.

A humanitarian aid agency also chose not to renew its sponsorship of the church’s Global Leadership Summit over concerns about the association’s process for reviewing complaints about senior leaders.

Hybels sat down with the Tribune for a lengthy interview this week and at times grew emotional as he flatly denied doing anything improper and dismissed the allegations against him as lies spun with the intent of discrediting his ministry.

The pastor said he has built his church with a culture of open conversation, strength and transparency, and said he could not understand why a group of former prominent members of his church — some of them onetime close friends — have “colluded” against him.

“This has been a calculated and continual attack on our elders and on me for four long years. It’s time that gets identified,” he told the Tribune. “I want to speak to all the people around the country that have been misled … for the past four years and tell them in my voice, in as strong a voice as you’ll allow me to tell it, that the charges against me are false. There still to this day is not evidence of misconduct on my part.

“I have a wife and kids and grandkids,” he added, praising the elders for their work to look into the allegations. “My family has had enough and they want the record clear. And they feel strongly supportive of me saying what I have to say to protect my family and clear my family’s name as well.”

In the case of the alleged affair, the wife of the association’s outgoing president said the woman confided in her, expressing regret and misgivings. She later denied the alleged affair when contacted by an elder investigating the matter, according to internal documents and interviews.

Hybels also denied the alleged affair during an initial inquiry in 2014. The elders said they believed him.

Elders have a vital oversight role at Willow Creek. Among their duties is to “carry the ultimate responsibility and authority to see that the church remains on a true biblical course,” the church’s website says. That includes an annual review of the senior pastor, and “confronting those who are contradicting biblical truth or continuing in a pattern of sinful behavior.”

Last year, elders retained a Chicago law firm that specializes in workplace issues to look into allegations against Hybels involving three women. According to communications from the law firm reviewed by the Tribune, that investigation was also to include any other evidence “of sex-related sin, whether conducted or condoned by Bill Hybels,” and be limited to his time as a church minister.

So far this year, two women have told the Tribune that they had been contacted by an elder to participate in a review. One of those women, Vonda Dyer, declined to participate, citing concerns about the process. Dyer, a former director of the church’s vocal ministry who often traveled with Hybels and whose husband also worked at Willow, told the Tribune that Hybels called her to his hotel suite on a trip to Sweden in 1998, unexpectedly kissed her and suggested they could lead Willow Creek together.

She said she hoped Hybels would acknowledge his alleged behavior was wrong and look to God for forgiveness.

“I would love for him to experience that kind of redemption,” she said.  View article →

Source:

Weekend Snapshot — Top Stories This Week

Weekend Snapshot

Mar. 24, 2018
Top Stories This Week
Quote of the Week

“What’s the point of voting for Republicans if they’re going to waste our hard-earned money just as much as the Democrats do? Washington is a cesspool.” —Allie Stuckey

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 03/24/2018

Megachurch Minister Claims It’s ‘Insanity’ to Believe Men Will Go to Hell for Rejecting Christ   Mar 19, 2018 09:48 am

NEW YORK — A megachurch minister recently told his congregation that he thinks it’s “insanity” to believe that men will go to Hell for rejecting Christ, and claimed that it is “not even what Jesus believes.” His comments have been met with outcry as blasphemy and false teaching from many who have viewed an online video clip of his remarks. Michael Walrond, Jr….

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String of Vandalism Cases Reported at Churches Nationwide   Mar 21, 2018 01:53 pm

Photo Credit: 11Alive TV/Screenshot A string of vandalism cases have been reported by churches nationwide this month, from Georgia and North Carolina to Texas and California. “Why?” asked William Yeoman, a trustee at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Belville, North Carolina. “Did God do anything to you? Did we do anything to you?” Windows…

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Atheist Activist Group Wants to Stop Pastor From Offering Lunchtime Bible Study at School   Mar 17, 2018 12:45 pm

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Stanley WINTERSVILLE, Ohio — 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…

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13-Year-Old Girl Dead After 9-Year-Old Brother Shoots Her Over Video Game, Sheriff Says   Mar 20, 2018 05:41 pm

TUPELO, Miss. (The Clarion Ledger) — A 13-year-old girl is dead in Monroe County after authorities say she was shot Saturday by her 9-year-old brother. Sheriff Cecil Cantrell said the girl would not give up a video game controller when her brother wanted it. Cantrell said she was shot in the back of the head with a .25 caliber handgun, and that the bullet went…

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76 Arrested in Multi-State Child Exploitation Sting Operation   Mar 19, 2018 01:08 pm

76 people have been arrested in a multi-state sting operation that focused on capturing those who engage in the sexual exploitation of minors, especially infants and toddlers. “While investigators regularly target the trading of all types of child pornography, in Operation Southern Impact II, investigators targeted those seeking out and distributing the most…

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Abortion Facility, Medical Waste Company Stericycle Investigated After Being Caught Meeting at Gas Station to Transfer ‘Infectious Waste’ for Disposal   Mar 23, 2018 03:04 pm

GREENVILLE, SC — An abortion facility in South Carolina and a branch of the nation’s largest medical waste company are under investigation after abortion facility representatives were captured on camera transporting “infectious waste” to a gas station, where they would meet up with their hauler, Stericycle, to transfer the boxes for disposal. The South Carolina…

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US Supreme Court Appears Skeptical of Law Requiring Calif. Pregnancy Centers to Provide Info on Govt. Abortion Programs   Mar 20, 2018 01:17 pm

WASHINGTON — Both conservative and liberal justices alike expressed skepticism on Tuesday over a law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers in California to provide information to clients regarding how they can take part in government programs that would allow them to obtain an abortion at little or no cost. The nine justices heard oral argument this morning in the…

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Kazakh Woman on Trial for Showing Another How to Download Bible Is Acquitted   Mar 18, 2018 09:31 am

Photo Credit: Wikipedia SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan (Radio Free Europe) — A court in Kazakhstan has acquitted a woman who was charged with illegal missionary activity after she showed another person how to download the Bible on a smartphone. The South Kazakhstan Regional Court, in the city of Shymkent, found Dilobarkhon Sultanova not guilty on March 13. Continue…

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Trump Admin’s Expanded Religious Exemptions to Contraceptive Mandate   Mar 17, 2018 03:31 pm

BOSTON — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Trump administration that challenged its recent expansion of protections for religious employers who are opposed to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare, also known as the “abortion pill mandate.” U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, appointed to the bench by then-President George H.W. Bush,…

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Christian Widow, Bereaved Father Show Reality Behind Herdsmen Attacks in Nigeria   Mar 19, 2018 03:42 pm

Chanka Amos MIANGO, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Crestfallen, the 48-year-old Christian, sat in his house in Miango, central Nigeria, where three of his children were killed a week before. “These series of attacks have been carried out against us Christians in this area for some time now by these armed herdsmen, and we don’t know precisely why they…

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March 24, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

never avenge yourself (12:19)

The last two characteristics Paul lists here are both reiterations. He again denounces returning evil for evil, declaring, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God. If a wrong has been done to us, no matter how serious and harmful it may have been, we are never qualified for or have a right to render punishment for the offense ourselves. We are to leave that to the wrath of God. Quoting from the Mosaic law (Deut. 32:35), the apostle reminds his readers that it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (cf. 2 Sam. 22:48; Nah. 1:2; Heb. 10:30). In His divine time, the wrath of God will come (Col. 3:6), and just retribution awaits the unforgiven.[1]


Keeping the Peace

Romans 12:18–20

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Whenever the subject of peace comes up Christians tend to get a bad rap, because the people discussing it think immediately of the Crusades of the Middle Ages or Protestants fighting Catholics in Northern Ireland today. We are supposed to be people of peace. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Yet Christianity seems to go hand in hand with political disruptions, internecine strife, and war.

These associations are not entirely fair. The Crusades were not really Christian. And in any case, they are only examples of the many thousands of wars that have scarred the face of human history. One writer has estimated that in the last four thousand years of human history there have been only three hundred years of peace. Human nature is vindictive, and the fights in which Christians have been involved are merely examples of the innumerable battles that have divided and continue to divide nations, races, families, and people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and dispositions. One of the songs I remember from my college days had this verse:

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.

The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.

Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch.

And I don’t like anybody very much.

Neither United Nor Reformed

There is some truth to the complaint that Christians have not always been a peace-loving people. Wars among nations are seldom in our control. But what about the battles that have divided Christians from Christians? In 1054 the Eastern Orthodox church divided from the Catholic church over one word in the Nicene Creed, filioque. It means “and the Son,” and it had to do with whether it is right to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” or whether the Holy Spirit proceeds only “from the Father.”

The leaders of the Reformation divided over how Jesus was present in the communion service, Martin Luther insisting on a literal physical presence (“This is my body,” Matt. 26:26) and Zwingli on a mere remembrance (“Do this in remembrance of me,” Luke 22:19).

And what of today? One writer tells of a crossroads in a small town where there were churches on three of the four corners. When a stranger asked what churches they were he was told, “Well, that one is United Presbyterian. This one is Reformed Presbyterian. And this one,” pointing to the third, “is for Presbyterians who are neither united nor reformed.”

Some divisions are based on important matters of theology and practice, of course. But many are not, and the self-righteous, antagonistic, fighting spirits that lie behind these unnecessary divisions and perpetuate them are a scandal among those who profess to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). He asserted, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Paul gets to this important matter in Romans 12:18–20, when he says:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

These are important statements about what it means to be a peacekeeper, especially because this is the first time in the letter that Paul has discussed the subject of peace between human beings. He discussed what it means to have peace with God in the first chapters of the letter (see Rom. 5:1). But this is the first consideration of what it means to be a peacemaker. There are three verses in this section, and they make three important points.

Realism

The first thing we notice about Paul’s challenge to Christians to live a life of peace is his sobering realism. He begins, “If it is possible” and “as far as it depends on you… ” (v. 18).

This way of speaking recognizes two potential sources of difficulty: (1) the behavior of other people may negate peace and (2) there may be issues at stake that will make peace impossible even from the side of the Christian. For example, truth cannot be bartered away or sacrificed just to maintain peace. Purity cannot be violated. Injustice cannot be condoned. James 3:17 says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving.…” So a prior, necessary Christian commitment to purity, truth, honesty, justice, and other indispensable matters may make peace unattainable.

Realism recognizes that this is a very wicked world. It knows that evil exists and affirms that it must be resisted by all right-thinking people, sometimes even to the point of armed conflict.

In September 1938 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich following his much-watched meeting with Adolf Hitler and greeted enthusiastic London crowds with the promise of “peace in our time.” He had just signed the infamous four-party agreement giving Germany the right to invade and occupy portions of Czechoslovakia. To maintain peace he had gone against his better judgment and had betrayed an ally. But it was not Chamberlain’s motive that was at fault. He was a man of peace who wanted to avoid a threatened bloodbath. What was lacking was his judgment. He was not sufficiently realistic about evil, and World War II was the result.

We also need realism of a positive nature: We should realize that some things contribute to peace just as other things cause conflict and that, if we are Christians, we need to be on the side of the one rather than the other.

Here is some practical realism from the Book of Proverbs:

  1. “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs” (Prov. 10:12).
  2. “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Prov. 12:16).
  3. “Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright” (Prov. 14:9).
  4. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
  5. “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9).
  6. “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Prov. 17:14).
  7. “An angry man stirs up dissension” (Prov. 29:22).

These verses tell us many things we can do to promote or encourage peace even if the other person does not want it.

Forbearance

The second important point Paul has to make about keeping peace is forbearance. He says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (v. 19). This is categorical teaching. It does not say, “Do not avenge yourselves except under the following three or four conditions” or “except under extreme circumstances.” It says, “Do not avenge yourselves.” That means never. Fighting back is not Christian.

“But surely I have to stand up for my rights,” you say. Do you? If you want to stand up for someone’s rights, I’ll tell you what to do: Stand up for someone else’s rights, fight for them. Do not fight for yourself, at least not if you are serious about obeying God and following Jesus Christ.

This verse tell us something else we should do as well, but it is no more acceptable to our natural way of thinking than what I have just said: Leave room for God’s wrath.

In the Greek text of Romans these words are literally, “Give place to wrath,” which is how the King James translators rendered the verse. In other words, there is no specific reference to God, which means that there is some question as to what the verse actually teaches. It could mean four things:

  1. Give place to your enemy’s wrath. That is, step aside and let it pass by you. If there is to be wrath, let it be his rather than yours.
  2. Give place to your own wrath. That is, give it time to expend itself. Don’t do anything hasty. Let the pressure in you dissipate.
  3. Give place to the wrath of the civil magistrate. That is, let the case come before the courts. That is what they are for.
  4. Give place to God’s wrath. This is the view of the translators of the New International Version, who have added the word “God’s” to clarify what they believe the text is teaching.

Of these four interpretations, the middle two can probably be eliminated quickly. The second, giving place to your own wrath, is just a modern idea. We speak of “letting it all hang out” or “getting it off your chest,” but that is hardly biblical. In fact, the point of this passage is the precise opposite. We are not to let our wrath out. We are to forego it. The third interpretation, giving place to the proper function of the civil courts, is not in view either. It is true that the next chapter begins to talk about the role of the civil magistrate, but it does not develop the government’s role in providing justice for us when we are wronged but rather the state’s role in either punishing or commending us for our behavior.

That leaves either the first or fourth interpretation: (1) that we are to give place to our enemy’s wrath, allowing it to work or (4) that we are to leave vengeance to God. The choice here is difficult, because both are true and both have something to commend them. Those who argue for the first view note that stepping back to allow something to pass by is the natural meaning of the Greek verb. Donald Grey Barnhouse says, “Here we are being told simply to endure patiently the wrath of the man who does us wrong. If evil rushes toward us, we are to love the evildoer and stand aside while he strikes out in blind selfishness; for we know that he cannot hurt us in the citadel of the heart where Jesus Christ holds sway.” Jesus’ command, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39), is along this exact line.

On the other hand, since the verse goes on to speak of God’s wrath, saying, “For it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord,” most commentators feel that the idea of giving place to God’s wrath is almost inescapable. John Murray says, “Here we have what belongs to the essence of piety. The essence of ungodliness is that we presume to take the place of God, to take everything into our own hands. It is faith to commit ourselves to God, to cast all our care on him and to vest all our interests in him. In reference to the matter in hand, the wrongdoing of which we are the victims, the way of faith is to recognize that God is judge and to leave the execution of vengeance and retribution to him. Never may we in our private personal relations execute the vengeance which wrongdoing merits.”

The statement “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” is from Deuteronomy 32:35, but it is also quoted in Hebrews 10:30. It is an essential truth to keep in mind, but it is difficult, especially when we are under attack. Times of attack are a profound test of faith and of whether or not we really do have an otherworldly perspective.

When we were studying the “pattern of this age” in our exposition of Romans 12:1–2, I contrasted the Christian worldview with that of secularism. Secularism rejects a beyond or a hereafter and sees life only as the now. So, for the secularist, to suggest leaving vengeance to God is utter foolishness. If the secularist is going to get what he wants, it will have to be now. And if justice is going to be done, it will have to be done in this life. Hence retaliation is the answer. It is only a person who sees beyond the now and is willing to trust God to establish justice and meet out punishments and awards hereafter who can be forebearing and hence be a peacemaker.

Remember these words: “ ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” They are important.

Active Goodness

The third verse dealing with what it means to “live at peace with everyone” is verse 20, which develops a contrast with the thought of taking vengeance into our own hands. “On the contrary,” it says,

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

The thrust of this verse is clear enough. We are to do good even to those who do evil to us. This is the positive way in which we are to work toward peace or be peacemakers. Moreover, it is a third step in an obvious progression. First, we are to forebear doing evil, not retaliating for wrongs done. Second, we are to do good instead of doing evil. Third, we are to do good even to our enemies. The quotation is from Proverbs 25:21–22.

The difficult part of this is the last line, which as Leon Morris notes in a classic understatement, is “a metaphorical expression whose meaning is not obvious.” What does it mean to “heap burning coals” on our enemy’s head? And why should we want to?

Charles Hodge suggests three possible interpretations.

  1. Increasing the enemy’s guilt and thus his eventual punishment. This is the oldest and probably the most widely received interpretation of the metaphor. But this is hardly the thrust of this passage, not to mention that it is also a revolting idea. It amounts to using good as a weapon. That is, “Be good to your enemy, because in the end your good will harm him more than if you were mean.” It is hard to imagine Jesus or even a nice worldly person seriously saying that.
  2. Kindness will cause your enemy to become guilty and feel shame. This is not much better. To be sure, shame might lead to repentance and thus eventually to salvation. But initially it is pain itself that we would be trying to inflict, and this hardly sits well with the idea of doing good to one’s enemies or blessing those who curse us, which Paul has expounded just a few verses earlier.
  3. Doing good to one’s enemy is the best means of subduing him or winning him over. Hodge calls this the simplest and natural meaning, saying, “To heap coals of fire on anyone is a punishment which no one can bear; he must yield to it. Kindness is no less effectual; the most malignant enemy cannot always withstand it. The true and Christian method, therefore, to subdue an enemy is to ‘overcome evil with good.’ ” This is where the next verse takes us, of course. For the end of the matter is that evil is to be overcome by good, not good by evil or even evil by evil. Hodge says, “Nothing is so powerful as goodness.… Men whose minds can withstand argument, and whose hearts rebel against threats, are not proof against the persuasive influence of unfeigned love.”5And isn’t that exactly how the Lord Jesus Christ subdued us to himself? No one was ever reviled so much or as unjustly as Jesus. Yet, as Peter wrote, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23–25).

It was by his conduct in suffering and before his enemies that Jesus won us, and it is by his death and the power of his resurrection that he enables us to live like him.

His Mind in Us

This leads me to the last point, a very important one. I have been working through what Paul is teaching about peacekeeping or peacemaking, and I have stressed that it requires realism, forbearance, and active goodness to those who do wrong. But perhaps you have been thinking—I know the thought comes to me—“But I can’t do it. I don’t care if this is the Christian way or is the example of Christ, I can’t do it. Nothing is ever going to get me to the point of wanting to do good to those who hate me.”

Fair enough. You have to start where you are, and if that is where you are, you have to recognize it. But also recognize that those who belong to Jesus Christ do not have a choice about whether they are going to follow and obey him or not. We must, if we are Christians. Therefore, we must be peacekeepers and peacemakers. We must be like him.

So the question is not Will you? The question is merely How? Let me make two suggestions.

First, you will never make any progress in making peace between yourself and other people until you have first found peace with God. You must be a Christian. Our relationship with God is the most important of all relationships, and if we are not at peace with him, we will never be at peace with others. We will be fighting constantly. That is why Peter went right on to discuss Jesus’ death. On the cross Jesus made peace between rebellious sinners like us and the sovereign, holy God against whom we have rebelled. It is by believing that and trusting in Jesus’ finished work that peace with God may be found.

Paul told the Colossians, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:19–20).

Second, if you are to be a peacemaker, you must be at peace yourself, and this means you must have experienced what Paul in Philippians calls the peace of God. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:5–7).

First, peace with God. Second, the peace of God. Then, at the last, you will be able to start being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. For when you are at peace with God and when the life of the Prince of Peace is in you, Jesus will be doing through you what he himself was doing when he was in the world. And while you are at it, do not forget the seventh of the eight Beatitudes, which promises a blessing to peacemakers, adding, “For they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).[2]19 This peace-loving attitude may be costly, however, because some will want to take advantage of it, figuring that Christian principles will not permit the wronged party to retaliate. What is to be done in such a case? The path of duty is clear: We are not to take vengeance. This would be to trespass on the province of God, the great Judge of all: “Leave room for God’s wrath.” Such matters are best left with the God who always does what is right. Here Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35, where the context indicates that the Lord will intervene to vindicate his people when their enemies abuse them and gloat over them. God’s action will rebuke not only the adversaries but also the false gods in which they have put their trust.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 2, p. 202). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The New Humanity (Vol. 4, pp. 1621–1628). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 24 GOD IS NOT DEPENDENT ON OUR HUMAN SUCCESS

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

1 PETER 5:6

Why is it that the professed Christian church seems to have learned so little from our Lord’s plain teaching and example concerning human failure and success?

We are still seeing as men see and judging after the manner of man’s judgment. How much eager beaver religious work is done out of a carnal desire to make good? How many hours of prayer are wasted beseeching God to bless projects that are geared to the glorification of little men? How much sacred money is poured out upon men who, in spite of their tear-in-the-voice appeals, nevertheless seek only to make a fair show in the flesh?

The true Christian should turn away from all this. No man is worthy to succeed until he is willing to fail. No man is morally worthy of success in religious activities until he is willing that the honor of succeeding should go to another if God so wills.

God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man.

God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God or more valuable in the total scheme of things.

Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept Him, rejected by all who reject Him, loved by those who love Him. What greater glory could come to any man?[1]


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

March 24 Salt and Light—the Nature of Believers

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.—Matt. 5:13–16

In these four verses the Lord summarizes the function of believers in the world—influence. This is a mandate for Christians to influence the world. The Beatitudes are not to be lived in isolation or only among fellow believers, but everywhere we go.

In verses 13 and 14, the pronoun “you” is emphatic. The idea is, “You are the only salt the earth knows and the only light the world sees.” The world’s corruption won’t be retarded and its darkness won’t be illumined unless God’s people are its salt and light. “You” in both verses is plural; that means the whole body, the church, is called to be the world’s salt and light.

By definition, an influence must be different from that which it influences, and Christians must be different from the world they are called to influence. We cannot influence the world for God if we are worldly ourselves, nor can we give light to it if we retreat to places and ways of darkness ourselves.

ASK YOURSELF

Is there anything that’s currently taking the bite out of your saltiness, or dimming the brightness of your light? Deal openly with the Lord about these things, asking Him to rid you of their influence so that you can be used of God to influence others.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 92). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 24 Feeding Your Passion

He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

How can you enhance your passion for the lost? First, study Christ’s great love, compassion, and tender mercy. You can study great men and women in church history, but ultimately you must understand the heart of Jesus. As 1 John 2:6 says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

Second, study sin: its guilt, power, and penalty. That will make you aware of how we have all fallen prey to the subtleties of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Let it remind you to be preoccupied not with worldly things, but with evangelizing the lost.

Third, study sinners. Try to cultivate love and sympathy for them, not bitterness. Note that the most zealous evangelists are often new converts.

Fourth, study Scripture. See what it says about hell, death, judgment, and salvation.

And finally, pray for God to give you a passion for evangelism.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 96). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 119:25–32

My soul clings to the dust;

revive me according to your word.

I told of my ways, and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts,

that I may meditate on your wonderful things.

My soul weeps because of grief;

strengthen me according to your word.

Remove from me the deceptive way,

and graciously give me your law.

I have chosen the faithful way;

I have set your ordinances before me.

I cling to your testimonies;

O Yahweh, do not let me be put to shame.

I will run the way of your commands,

for you will enlarge my heart.

Reading: Mark 15:1–5

And as soon as morning came, after formulating a plan, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole Sanhedrin, tied up Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he answered him and said, “You say so.” And the chief priests began to accuse him of many things. So Pilate asked him again, saying, “Do you not answer anything? See how many charges they are bringing against you!” But Jesus did not answer anything further, so that Pilate was astonished.

Reflection

He is the First-begotten, after a transcendent manner. He is the creator of man. He is all in all—patriarch among the patriarchs; law in the law; the priest among priests; among kings, prime Leader; the prophet among the prophets; the angel among angels; the man among men; son in the Father; God in God; king to all eternity. He was sold with Joseph, and He guided Abraham. He was bound along with Isaac and wandered with Jacob. With Moses, He was Leader, and, respecting the people, legislator. He preached in the prophets, was incarnate of a virgin, and born in Bethlehem. He was received by John and baptized in Jordan. He was tempted in the desert, and proved to be the Lord.

He gathered the apostles together and preached the kingdom of heaven. He gave light to the blind and raised the dead. He was seen in the temple, but was not held by the people as worthy of credit. He was arrested by the priests, conducted before Herod, and condemned in the presence of Pilate. He manifested Himself in the body, was suspended upon a beam of wood, and raised from the dead. He was shown to the apostles, and—having been carried up to heaven—sits on the right hand of the Father, and has been glorified by Him as the resurrection of the dead. Moreover, He is the salvation of the lost, the light to those dwelling in darkness, and redemption to those who have been born. He is the shepherd of the saved and the bridegroom of the Church. He is the charioteer of the cherubim, the leader of the angelic host. He is God of God—Jesus Christ our Saviour.

—Irenaeus of Lyons

Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus

Response

Which of Jesus’ roles, listed by Irenaeus of Lyons above, is the most amazing to you? Why? Spend time praising Him in prayer and thanking Him for His roles and His work.[1]


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

March 24, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

25 The noble wife is diligent and prudent in her work; her strength and honor come from her solid financial and economic position, as v. 25b shows (Toy, 547); so the result is that she is confident in facing the future.[1]


31:25 The virtuous woman’s own clothing is far richer than linen or silk; she is dressed in strength and honor.[2]


31:25. Clothing is here referred to metaphorically to indicate that her appearance is one of strength and dignity. She is no shameful weakling. Also she can laugh at the future, that is, face it with confidence (cf. v. 21). Though 27:1 cautions against boasting “about tomorrow,” that does not do away with preparing for it (as ants do, 6:6–8; 30:25).[3]


31:25 Strength and dignity. These words describe the character of the woman who fears the Lord. Her inward clothing displays divine wisdom, giving her confidence to face the future with its unexpected challenges.[4]


31:25Strength and dignity are so much a part of her character and conduct that they seem to be almost like her clothing. She laughs at the future, in contrast with being worried or fearful about it.[5]


31:25Strength and dignity are her clothing While the excellent wife produces clothing from fine linen (Prov 31:22), she is better known for her character.[6]


31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing. The words refer either to her character, or, as is more likely in view of the second line, to the esteem earned by her economic prowess. She has no worry about the future. Both interpretations are consistent with wisdom.[7]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 250). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 778). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[3] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 973). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 31:25). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1191). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 31:25). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 922). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

March 24 Jesus’ Humility in Death

“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:8

✧✧✧

In His suffering and death, Jesus is our supreme example of humility.

We naturally react to injustice with deep hurt and an assertion of our rights. But Jesus’ response to His accusers did not include one word of angry defensiveness. Matthew 27:12–14 tells us: “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’ And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.”

Later on, during His sham trial, Jesus continued to humble Himself. He accepted sinful men’s abuse when they whipped Him, stripped off His robe, planted a crown of thorns on His head, mocked Him, spat on Him, and beat on Him with a reed. Christ did not even demand His rights when He was condemned to death and forced to walk to Calvary half–naked with a cross on His back.

Today’s verse underscores the most shocking aspect of Christ’s humiliation: the kind of death He died. He endured crucifixion, the cruelest form of death ever devised. The Romans used it to execute rebellious slaves and the worst criminals. Because He was King of the Jews, Jesus’ death on the cross was seen as especially horrible by His people. The Jews had long known what the Law of Moses said: “He who is hanged [on a tree] is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23). From everyone’s standpoint, the Son of God suffered the ultimate in human degradation.

But in spite of the detestable treatment He suffered, Christ graciously and lovingly died for sinners like you and me. Such an example of selfless humility ought to motivate us, His followers, as we minister to others, “since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus’ example of humility extended all the way to His willingness to redeem you.

For Further Study: Read one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ suffering and death (Matt. 26–27; Mark 14–15; Luke 22–23; John 18–19). Record some observations about His general attitude during the ordeal. ✧ In what situations and ways does He show humility? ✧ If you have time, compare and contrast two of the accounts.[1]


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

MARCH 24 THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

—Romans 1:20

The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God; it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but of the absence of parts. Between His attributes no contradiction can exist. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.

An attribute, then, is not a part of God. It is how God is, and as far as the reasoning mind can go, we may say that it is what God is, though, as I have tried to explain, exactly what He is He cannot tell us…. “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Only to an equal could God communicate the mystery of His Godhead; and to think of God as having an equal is to fall into an intellectual absurdity.

The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. KOH025

I can’t comprehend You entirely, God, but I thank You for what You have revealed. Help me to learn all I can about You through an understanding of Your attributes. Amen.[1]


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

March 23 Daily Help

O CHILDREN of God! death hath lost its sting. It is sweet to die; to lie upon the breast of Christ, and have one’s soul kissed out of one’s body by the lips of divine affection. And you that have lost friends, or that may be bereaved, sorrow not as those who are without hope. What a sweet thought the death of Christ brings us concerning those who are departed! They are gone, my brethren; but do you know how far they have gone? The distance between the glorified spirits in heaven and the militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 86). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 23, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

concerning mutual love

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. (4:8–9)

Mutual love primarily concerns believers’ relationships with each other. Above all refers to the supreme importance of that virtue in the Christian life (cf. 1 Cor. 13:13; Phil. 2:2; Col. 3:14), and the participle rendered keep collects “sound judgment” and “sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” under the priority of fervent … love for one another. Fervent (ektenēs) denotes stretching or straining and pictures a person running with taut muscles, exerting maximum effort. Ancient Greek literature used the word to describe a horse stretching out and running at full speed. Earlier in this letter (1:22), Peter also used its related adverb to describe the intensity and exertion that ought to characterize Christian love. Such love is sacrificial, not sentimental, and requires a stretching of believers’ every spiritual muscle to love in spite of insult, injury, and misunderstanding from others (Prov. 10:12; Matt. 5:44; Mark 12:33; Rom. 12:14, 20; 1 John 4:11; cf. Rom. 12:15; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 5:2; James 1:27).

It is self-evident that genuine love inherently tends to forgive the offenses of others (cf. Prov. 10:12). But commentators differ on how to interpret the expression love covers a multitude of sins. Some say it refers to God’s love covering sins, whereas others say it describes believers who are lovingly overlooking each other’s transgressions. Since the text offers no explanation, it seems best to understand the phrase here as a general axiom. Whether from God or man, love covers sin.

Love derives from the well-known Greek word agapē (cf. 1:8, 22; 2:17; 3:10), which carries a strong volitional significance. Salvation results from the Lord’s choosing to love all those who believe: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; cf. John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). Christians must follow His example, choosing to love even the unlovely, because “the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40) hinges on doing so (vv. 37–39), as does their witness (John 13:34–35). The command to be hospitable (literally, “to love strangers”) takes that love beyond the circle of Christians’ friends to other believers they do not even know (cf. Heb. 13:2).

According to the Mosaic law, the Jews were to extend hospitality to strangers (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 14:29; cf. Gen. 18:1–2). Jesus commended believers who provided food, clothing, and shelter to others (Matt. 25:35–40; cf. Luke 14:12–14). However, the spirit of hospitality extends beyond the tangible acts of providing meals or a place to stay. It includes not just the act, but an unselfish attitude, so that what is done, no matter the sacrifice, is done without complaint. Biblical hospitality knows nothing of the “Poor Richard’s Almanac” mentality that says fish and guests smell after three days.

Because believers still sin (Rom. 7:18–19; 1 John 1:8; cf. 1 Tim. 1:15), the only thing that will preserve the church’s unity is love that forgives and reaches out in kindness to strangers. Love also plays a foundational role in the evangelization of the unsaved. Jesus told the apostles, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).[1]


8 In the mind of Peter, proper thinking will lead to proper action, and a distinctly Christian social ethic is the embodiment of love. Love for others, “above all,” is to characterize the Christian community, and such love is to be tenacious, full-bodied, intense, deep (ektenēs, GK 1756). If the NT teaches anything, it teaches the primacy of love in accord with the teaching of Jesus (Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27; Jn 13:34–35; 15:12; 1 Co 13:1–13; Eph 5:1–2; Php 2:2; Jas 2:8; 1 Jn 2:10; 4:7–11, 19–21). Moreover, in the face of extreme social hostility, love will be necessary for spiritual survival. For Peter the primacy of love is accompanied by a qualification, and this qualification is a partial citation of Proverbs 10:12 similar to James 5:20—“love covers over a multitude of sins,” rather than magnifying the faults of others. After all, love is patient and doesn’t keep a record of wrongs (1 Co 13:4, 5).[2]


4:8 / Above all, as far as fellow believers are concerned, right relationships between them are paramount. The importance of the old tag “unity is strength” became increasingly obvious to the early Christians as members of their community faced hardening antagonism from neighbors and officials. The vital link between Christians is expressed by Peter’s admonition to his readers: above all, love each other deeply. And by way of supporting explanation, he once again turns to the ot for a proof-text: because love covers over a multitude of sins (Prov. 10:12). As a proverb, the expression perhaps originally meant “Love is blind to the faults of others.” It came to be interpreted by Jews as referring to deeds of love, especially almsgiving, that in the Jewish view helped to atone for an individual’s own sins. Significantly, in taking over the ot citation Peter changes the word for “love” to the usual nt term (agapē), and so points to the Christian understanding of the proverb. Love here refers to Christ’s love. At best, a Christian’s love is but a reflection of that of the Lord Jesus, and that is unique because it alone can “cover over sins.” Only Christ’s love is able to hide an individual’s sins from God’s consciousness (Rom. 5:9).[3]


4:8. The second priority is forgiving love. Above all, love each other deeply burns into our minds the supreme importance of love as the controlling factor in all relationships in the church (see 1:22; 2:17; 3:8). This kind of love (agape) can be commanded because it is primarily a decision of the mind, not a feeling into which a person falls. The goal of agape love is always to seek the good of the other person. The evidence of agape love is action, not words. The extent of agape love is sacrifice. Thus, believers are to love each other “deeply.” This word means “to be stretched.” True agape love is constantly being stretched to the limit by the demands made on it. This is precisely where agape love shines, because it is not exhausted when it becomes difficult or inconvenient.

One of the most difficult and inconvenient times to extend love is when someone in the church has hurt or wronged us. We must demonstrate a love that is willing to be stretched because love covers over a multitude of sins. “Covers” means “willing to forgive.” The present tense indicates that which is to be constantly true in the life of the believer.

Love does not ignore the reality of personal sin any more than it justifies or condones sin. Confrontation of sin is appropriate and necessary, especially when we demonstrate love. However, it is just as important to demonstrate a willingness to forgive and then to move on. Forgiveness, like love, is an act of the will, a personal choice. A person chooses either to forgive or not to forgive. According to Grudem, “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offenses, and even some large ones, are overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound” (Grudem, 174).[4]


4:8 He must pay attention to his fellowship with other believers (vv. 8, 9), and have fervent love for all members of the household of faith. Such a love will not publicize the faults and failings of other believers, but will protect them from public view. Someone has said, “Hatred makes the worst of everything. Love is entitled to bury things out of sight.”

The statement “love will cover a multitude of sins” (Prov. 10:12) should not be taken as a doctrinal explanation of how sins are put away. The guilt and penalty of sins can only be removed by the blood of Christ. Neither should the statement be used to condone sin or to relieve an assembly from its responsibility to discipline an offender. It means that true love is able to overlook minor faults and failures in other believers.[5]


4:8have fervent love among yourselves: Christian commitment for the good of one another is to be intense, stretched out to the maximum, holding nothing back. love will cover a multitude of sins: Peter is not suggesting that one Christian’s love atones for another Christian’s sins. Rather, by introducing this proverb from the OT (Prov. 10:12), he is reminding us that love does not stir up sins. We can demonstrate our love for our fellow believers by truly forgiving them and not talking openly about their past sins.[6]


4:8–9. Love (agapēn … echontes) each other deeply. “Deeply” (ektenē, “stretched” or “strained”) was used to describe the taut muscles of an athlete who strains to win a race (cf. ektenōs in 1:22). A Christian’s unselfish love and concern for others should be exercised to the point of sacrificially giving for others’ welfare. Love covers over (kalyptei, lit., “hides”) a multitude of sins. This kind of strenuously maintained love is not blind but sees and accepts the faults of others (cf. Prov. 10:12; 1 Cor. 13:4–7). Christian love may be displayed through extending free food and lodging, offering hospitality (philoxenoi, lit., “being friendly to strangers”) without grumbling to those who are traveling. During times of persecution, hospitality was especially welcomed by Christians who were forced to journey to new areas.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 241–242). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 346). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 125–126). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 72–73). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2277). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1686). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 853). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.