Monthly Archives: April 2018

April 30: They’re Futile; This Isn’t

Joshua 22:10–24:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11–14; Psalm 60:1–12

If you knew it was time to die, to say goodbye for good, what would you say? How would your final hoorah sound?

In an episode of Northern Exposure, Dr. Joel Fleischman is convinced that he is dying. Joel, who is usually conservative, begins risking everything: he drives a motorcycle way too fast without a helmet, gets a ticket that he rips up, and eventually crashes the bike—all while feeling no remorse. He then returns to his office to learn that he is actually fine; his doctor’s initial inclination was incorrect. Almost immediately, he becomes angry that he didn’t know his fate earlier. In his recklessness, he could have prematurely ended his life.

The risks you take when you think your life is over are quite different from those you’re willing to take when you think you’re fine. The things you say, the person you are, would be very different if you knew tomorrow were your last day.

Joshua, who led Israelites into the promised land, knew his end was coming. As an old man, he commanded the Israelites: “But hold fast to Yahweh your God … Yahweh has driven out before you great and strong nations; and as for you, nobody has withstood you to this day. One of your men put to flight a thousand, for Yahweh your God is fighting for you, just as he promised you” (Josh 23:8–10).

Paul made a similar remark: “For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong, and we pray for this: your maturity” (2 Cor 13:9). Paul realized that maturity in Christ will always put us in the right place in the end. He concluded his letter to the Corinthians by expanding upon this message: “Finally, brothers [and sisters], rejoice, be restored, be encouraged, be in agreement, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11).

What would you say if you were Joel, Joshua, or Paul? What would you do? As Christians, the response should be the same no matter how long we have to live; Christ could come tomorrow. Does that thought give you joy or great fear?

Whenever we experience pain, grief, or encounter enemies, the oppositions of life seem to distract us from our great purpose in Christ. They mask the brevity of our time on earth. Perhaps this is why the psalmist puts it best: “Give us help against the adversary, for the help of humankind is futile. Through God we will do valiantly, and it is he who will tread down our enemies” (Psa 60:11–12).

What hope are you currently placing in the futility of humankind? What actions can you take to refocus your hope on Christ?

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.

April 30 Realizing Your Reward

“Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11–12).


The sacrifices you make for Christ’s sake in this life will be abundantly compensated for in Heaven.

God’s promise for those who are persecuted for His sake is that their reward in Heaven will be great (Matt. 5:12). Jesus said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29).

Focusing on that promise instead of your present circumstances is how you can experience happiness amid suffering. That was Paul’s great confidence even as he faced certain death. In 2 Timothy 4:8 he declares, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Another source of joy in trials is knowing that you share the fate of the prophets themselves (Matt. 5:12). Those godly men suffered untold hardships for proclaiming God’s message. That’s a noble group to be identified with!

One final word of encouragement from Matthew 5:11—persecution will not be incessant! Jesus said, “Blessed are you when . . .” The Greek word translated “when” means “whenever.” You won’t always be persecuted, but whenever you are, you will be blessed. In addition, God will govern its intensity so you will be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). He knows your human weaknesses and will supply the necessary grace and peace to get you through. That’s why you can rejoice when otherwise you might be devastated and filled with grief.

If you are willing to make sacrifices now, you will receive incomparable rewards in the future. How shortsighted are those who protect themselves now by denying Christ or by compromising His truth rather than sacrificing the present for the sake of eternal blessing and glory!


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the example of the prophets and others who have suffered for Him.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 21:33–39 and Hebrews 11:32–38. ✧ How did Jesus illustrate the persecution of God’s prophets? ✧ What is Scripture’s commendation to those who suffered for righteousness’ sake?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 133). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:8

If Abraham had ever grumbled to the Lord about leaving the beggarly idols of Ur, God would have let him go back. We are free to do the will of God, but God never makes us His unwilling prisoners. God called Abraham out, God gave him the Promised Land and God said, “Abraham, from among your posterity will come the Messiah in the fullness of time!”

This is the gracious reason why we should tell people everywhere to hear and heed the call of God—so He can lead them into everything that is good and blessed and worthwhile.

God wants to call us out into a more abundant and fruitful Christian life than we have ever known!

Lord, who am I to argue with You or to call into question Your sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Yours. So be it, Lord; Your will, not mine be done.[1]

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

Along with California “criminalizing” the Bible, Google is now banning ads…

Read more on this subject: California News Story Source:, Isabelle Z.

Google has a frightening amount of control over the internet, and although one of their past mottos was “Don’t be evil,” they seem to have a different set of rules when it comes to dealing with Christians and conservatives.

The firm recently informed the CEO of Concordia Publishing House, Bruce Kintz, that they were banning ads related to their domain, which sells religious books, music and other items related to their conservative Lutheran denomination.

He was told that the problem was related to the fact that items featured in the ad and on their website refer to the Bible and/or Jesus and that such references would need to be removed before they could be considered for reinclusion.


April 30, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump has a new idea for the location of a potential meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un: the Peace House near the Demilitarized Zone marking the North’s border with South Korea.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has promised to close his main nuclear weapons test site in May and said he will invite South Korean and American media to witness the shutdown.

The U.S. Commerce Department is wrestling with a flood of requests to exclude products from steel and aluminum import tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, creating a backlog that’s sparked calls for action from lawmakers and trade groups.

Forget Uber, Waymo and Tesla: the next big name in self-driving vehicles could be the Pentagon. “We’re going to have self-driving vehicles in theater for the Army before we’ll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill this month. “But the core technologies will be the same.”

Back-to-back bombings in the Afghan capital Kabul have killed 29 people including nine journalists in the deadliest attack on Afghanistan’s media since 2001.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May talked about Iran nuclear deal in calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday and Sunday.

Bank of America revealed last week that the number of employees directly affected by mass shootings over the years has topped 150, prompting the company to announce it will no longer finance makers of assault-style firearms sold to consumers. And with that, the second-largest U.S. bank crossed a line that big financial firms usually strain to avoid, taking a side in the nation’s many culture wars.

AP Top Stories

A group of Central Americans who journeyed in a caravan to the U.S. border resolved to turn themselves in and ask for asylum Sunday in a direct challenge to the Trump administration – only to have U.S. immigration officials announce that the San Diego crossing was already at capacity.

The caravan of Central American asylum-seekers that sent the Trump administration into a frenzy of anger began crossing into the United States on Sunday. The caravan’s organizers, immigrant rights activists and legal observers marched toward International Friendship Park, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, as the caravan’s participants marched from Tijuana to San Diego on Sunday morning.

Guns will be barred during Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance at an upcoming National Rifle Association convention to protect his safety – prompting survivors of the Parkland school shooting in Florida to wonder why the gun group won’t agree to gun restrictions elsewhere to protect children.

A doctor in Georgia has been accused of threatening to slit the throats of her employees and patients, damaging a wall with a reflex hammer and throwing water on employees. Dr. Marian Antoinette Patterson was charged with three counts of terroristic threats and one count of false imprisonment Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk told news outlets. Patterson has been released from jail on bond after turning herself in Thursday, Paulk said.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened to shut down the federal government in September if Congress did not provide more funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced a deal with state legislative leaders Friday to raise teachers’ pay 20 percent by 2020, as educators stayed away from classrooms a second straight day in a spreading revolt over salaries and school funding.

Iran’s top leader said Monday the United States is pushing Saudi Arabia into a war against Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on his website that the “Americans are trying to put Saudis and some other regional countries before Iran. If they are wise, they should not be deceived by the U.S.”

The Syrian army unleashed a massive bombardment against one rebel enclave on Monday and prepared for the withdrawal of insurgents from another as President Bashar al-Assad pushes to crush the rebels’ last besieged strongholds.

The Philippines on Monday released the names of over 200 local elected officials with alleged links to drugs, rejecting concerns it amounted to a “hit list” in President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly narcotics crackdown.


Nearly 350 victims of human trafficking have been rescued by police in 13 Caribbean and Latin American countries. The Interpol-coordinated Operation Libertad saved men, women and children trafficked abroad and forced into work.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will become the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to be received by US President Donald Trump when he arrives in Washington for talks later.


A 3.3 earthquake struck near Alamo, California on Monday April 30, 2018, according to the USGS.

An 11Alive investigation uncovered a 93-year-old Georgia nursing home resident died from a scabies infestation. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the case estimates millions of parasitic mites essentially ate her alive over several months or possibly years.

In 20 to 40 years from now, would-be parents will be able to choose from dozens of already artificially created embryos before having a child based on their preferred criteria and potential, says a bioethicist and author of the book, “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction.”

T-Mobile US Inc. agreed to acquire Sprint Corp. for $26.5 billion in stock, a wager that the carriers can team up to build a next-generation wireless network and get a jump on industry leaders Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc.

The Briefing — Monday, April 30, 2018

1) British toddler Alfie Evans dies five days after being removed from life support against parents’ wishes

New York Times (Yonette Joseph) –
Alfie Evans, Terminally Ill British Toddler at Center of Court Fight, Dies (Albert Mohler) –
Life in the Balance in Liverpool — Alfie Evans Is Not Alone

2) The deadly consequences of displacing the family as the centerpiece of society

New York Times (Ross Douthat) –
Alfie Evans and the Experts

Washington Post (Ben Zdencanovic) –
How Alfie Evans became the latest weapon in the conservative attack on universal health care

The Guardian (Staff) –
Living children’s glands given to drug firms

3) Many questions remain after North Korea takes significant steps toward peace

New York Times (Mark Landler) –
As Two Koreas Talk Peace, Trump’s Bargaining Chips Slip Away

4) Why human civilization cannot be sustained with artificial jobs, artificial wages, or artificial workers

Washington Post (Megan McArdle) –
Bernie Sanders wants you to have a good job. But there’s a catch.

New York Times (Peter S. Goodman) –
Finland Has Second Thoughts About Giving Free Money to Jobless People

Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 30, 2018

The Mean-Spirited White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Comedienne Michelle Wolf’s vulgar and bullying “comedy” exposed the MSM’s moral hypocrisy.

The Foundation

“If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall chearfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself.” —Benjamin Franklin (1789)

News – 4/30/2018

The Bacteria Eats Through Skin, Is Causing Mystery in Australia
“It is difficult to prevent a disease when it is not known how infection is acquired,” reads a study published Monday that tracks the spread of a flesh-eating ulcer in Australia, and that’s not the only mystery surrounding the rise in Buruli ulcers. The disease has historically most often struck in tropical and swampy parts of Africa, but incidents of it have surged in Victoria, which the BBC notes has a “temperate” climate—and only Victoria, with no cases reported in the neighboring Australian states….

Senator’s Islam expert reposts al-Qaida video
The “go-to” guy on Muslim issues for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for the past six years, Mongi Dhaouadi, reposted a video by a designated al-Qaida terrorist on his Facebook page last month and contends Palestinian attacks against Israel are not terrorist acts. Dhaouadi, a board member of the Connecticut chapter of the Hamas-tied Council on American Islamic Relations, has issued extreme anti-Israel statements.

Showdown builds between Comey, House: Just what did FBI director say about Michael Flynn?
The Republicans say there’s a transcript — not just of Comey’s testimony but of fired top FBI deputy Andrew McCabe, too — that will prove them right. But so far, the intelligence community has prevented that proof from seeing the light of day. A resolution to the matter might come as soon as the next few days.

Iran leader: US will be ‘hit multiple times’ if it enters conflict with Iran
Ali Khamenei calls on US to ‘leave’ Middle East, says any power challenging Islamic republic will be defeated; US ‘provoking region’s inexperienced rulers to create further regional crisis’; in meeting with Iranian lawmaker, Syrian President Assad says region’s maps being redrawn, ‘hostile countries now trying direct aggression after proxies failed.’

Arab world on the BRINK of second wave of revolutions, warn experts
THE ARAB world faces a second wave of revolutions just eight years after the Arab Spring due to uncontrolled urbanisation, critical unemployment and financial pressures, according to experts.

Still No Action Taken Against Honduran Bishop Accused of Sexual Abuse
Despite serious allegations involving abuse of seminarians and financial misconduct leveled against him, Honduran Auxiliary Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle of Tegucigalpa remains in position, and put in charge of the archdiocese during the frequent times Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga is away.

Iranians killed in alleged Israeli strike on military site in Syria
The Syrian army confirmed that Sunday that several military bases in northern Syria were struck in an attack blamed on Israel by the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al Akhbar. According to official news agency SANA, a military source said that “some military sites in the countryside of Hama and Aleppo provinces were exposed at 10:30 PM to a new aggression with hostile rockets.”

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo calls on Palestinians to negotiate
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Palestinian to return to the negotiating table with Israel, as he spoke in Jordan on Monday at the end of a whirlwind Middle East visit. “We believe that the Israelis and Palestinians need to have political engagement. We urge the Palestinians to return to that political dialogue,” Pompeo said during a joint press conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

Kabul bombings: Photographer Shah Marai among 25 dead
At least 25 people have been killed in two bombings in the Afghan capital Kabul, including several journalists documenting the scene. AFP chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, is among the victims. The first explosion was carried out by an attacker on a motorbike. A second followed about 15 minutes later after a crowd, including several reporters, had gathered at the scene.

North Korea: Chinese foreign minister to visit Pyongyang after historic talks
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to visit North Korea this week, after historic talks between the North and South last Friday. The trip comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity following the landmark day on the peninsula. China is North Korea’s only remaining economic ally, but this will be its highest level visit there in years.

Danish citizen is first person convicted under Malaysian anti-fake news law, jailed 1 week, fined RM10,000
A Danish national has become the first person to be convicted under Malaysia’s new anti-fake news law. Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, on Monday (April 30) pleaded guilty to maliciously publishing fake news in the form of a YouTube video on the recent shooting of Fadi al-Batsh, an alleged member of militant Palestine group Hamas in Kuala Lumpur, reported The Star.

China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale
Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors. But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

Iran leader: US will be ‘hit multiple times’ if it enters conflict with Iran
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday the time when Iran’s enemies can “hit and run” is over. “They know if they enter military conflict with Iran, they will be hit multiple times,” he said in comments during a meeting with workers, according to his website. He did not specifically refer to the latest attack in Syria.

Korea: Trump deserves Nobel Peace Prize
South Korean President Moon Jae-in hailed the recent meetings between North Korean leaders and representatives of both the US and South Korea, adding that the talks underway towards halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program should earn President Donald Trump a Nobel Peace Prize.

Israeli security cabinet calls emergency meeting
Israel’s Security Cabinet held an emergency meeting Monday afternoon, hours after explosions rocked military facilities in Syria. The special meeting of the cabinet was convened at 1:30 p.m. at IDF headquarters in the Kirya compound in Tel Aviv. Several military facilities around Hama and Aleppo in Syria were reportedly hit by missiles at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

Quantum radar to render stealth technologies ineffective
Stealth technology may not be very stealthy in the future thanks to a US$2.7-million project by the Canadian Department of National Defence to develop a new quantum radar system. The project, led by Jonathan Baugh at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), uses the phenomenon of quantum entanglement to eliminate heavy background noise, thereby defeating stealth anti-radar technologies to detect incoming aircraft and missiles with much greater accuracy.

Powerful earthquake in Bárðarðarbunga, one of Vatnajökull’s monster volcanoes
The monster volcano Bárðarbunga, one of the most active and powerful volcanoes in Iceland and Europe, trembled yesterday afternoon. A sharp 3.9 magnitude earthquake was detected at 16:13 on Sunday afternoon, followed by a handful of smaller quakes.

Scientists confused by erratic behaviour of Yellowstone geyser
A geyser at Yellowstone National Park in the USA has mystified scientists with its spike in activity, erupting three times in the past six weeks. The Steamboat Geyser is known to spout 91 metres into the air, making it the world’s tallest active geyser. And scientists aren’t sure why the iconic landmark has been erupting more often of late

4.0 magnitude earthquake hits off Southern Oregon Coast
A 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the Southern Oregon coast on Sunday night. The earthquake’s epicenter was over six miles deep and over 120 miles off the coast in Bandon, according to the USGS. It happened at approximately 7:20 p.m.

Trump May Attend Embassy Opening in Jerusalem
At a White House press conference, a reporter from the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) asked who would represent the White House at the historic inauguration. The president gave the surprising answer, “I may go. Very proud of it.”

Hundreds Flock to Cathedral’s ‘Beyonce Mass’ Blending Secular Pop Star’s Music With Scripture Readings, Communion
An estimated 750-900 people flocked to a San Francisco cathedral’s “Beyonce’ Mass” on Wednesday night, an event that blended renditions of the secular pop star’s music with the reading of Scripture, communion, and the presentation of a related message by a seminary professor. While the event was popular with the locals, others state that the world’s music has no place being performed in what is supposed to be the holy house of God.

Border Caravan? Call it the George Soros Express
Hundreds of Central American migrants demanding asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico Sunday may be poor, but they have support of major foundations, corporations and billionaire George Soros for their well-organized caravan-style invasion.

New Fukushima nightmare for Japan utility
There’s a building boom going on at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan where on March 11, 2011, as the coast was catastrophically flooded by an earthquake-triggered tsunami, three of the six reactors melted down.

Senator’s Islam expert reposts al-Qaida video
The “go-to” guy on Muslim issues for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for the past six years, Mongi Dhaouadi, reposted a video by a designated al-Qaida terrorist on his Facebook page last month and contends Palestinian attacks against Israel are not terrorist acts.

Israeli Source: Trump Will Unveil Peace Plan After Embassy Move
President Donald Trump will unveil his long-gestating peace plan after the U.S. opens its new embassy in Jerusalem, an Israeli source stated on Saturday.

Syrian army, ISIS wage fierce battle in south Damascus
The Syrian army and its allies engaged in a fierce battle on Saturday with ISIS fighters in an enclave south of Damascus held by the militant group.

Army issues waivers to 1,000 recruits for mental health issues
The Army issued waivers over 13 months to more than 1,000 recruits who had been diagnosed and treated for mood disorders and 95 more for self-mutilation, according to data obtained by USA TODAY.

Penn State Outing Club Banned as Too Risky
…That’s right. In the past, members of the Outing Club would participate in activities such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping, however, the university’s offices of Student Affairs and Risk Management have since decided that these things are just too treacherous for college students…

University of Texas to Treat Masculinity as a ‘Mental Health’ Issue
The Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin recently launched a new program to help male students “take control over their gender identity and develop a healthy sense of masculinity.”

Bill Gates thinks a coming disease could kill 30 million people within 6 months — and says we should prepare for it as we do for war
…Gates presented a simulation by the Institute for Disease Modelling that found that a new flu like the one that killed 50 million people in the 1918 pandemic would now most likely kill 30 million people within six months.

How the Deep State Destroys Education and Healthcare In the Name of Corporate Profits at the State Level
Every facet of our government from the federal government to the state, city and county level are under the control of the Deep State globalists. They create organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which, in effect controls our local politics. If you wonder why your schools are underfunded and teaching porn disguised radical sex-ed that parents cannot opt out of, I just told you who is responsible… ALEC was funded in 1973, in Bill Ayers/Obama town of  Chicago. It was known as the Conservative Caucus of State Legislators at its onset.

Trump threatens to ‘close down the country’ over funding for border wall
President Trump hreatened on Saturday to “close down the country” — an apparent reference to a government shutdown — unless Congress approves funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Jihadis slaughter more than 40 women, CHILDREN and old people in Islamic attacks in Mali
Jihadists kill 40 people Mali France islamist militants ISIS al-Qaeda GETTY The Tuareg ethnic group was targeted in two separate attacks  Rebel group MSA and tribal leaders said more than 30 people were killed on Friday and 12 a day after by gunmen on motorbikes in the Menaka region. Menaka governor, Daouda Maiga, said: “There are various versions, but I know there are women and children among the victims, as well as elderly.”

Headlines – 4/30/2018

Palestinians must make peace or shut up, Saudi crown prince said to tell US Jews

Hamas slams German parliament for endorsing Israel as Jewish state

Palestinians vote this week on PLO’s aging leaders, as Abbas tightens grip

Pompeo Snubs Abbas During Israel Visit, Palestinian Official Says

Pompeo and Palestinians Have ‘Nothing to Discuss’ Amid Gaza Crisis

IDF escalates response to Gaza border clashes

In third separate incident, 2 armed Palestinians arrested after crossing Gaza border into Israel

Is Hamas embrace of ‘nonviolence’ opportunism or policy shift?

Jordan, Israel, Palestinians in rare Japan-hosted meeting

Amnesty International renews call for arms embargo against Israel

Trump, Netanyahu team up to confront Iran’s hostile interference in Middle East

Sect. Pompeo to PM on Iran: ‘Israel has right to defend itself’

Nuke deal deadline nearing, Netanyahu and Trump discuss ‘problems posed’ by Iran

PM Netanyahu to sect. of state: Nuclear weapons in Iranian hands poses greatest danger

Pompeo: Trump will quit Iran nuke deal if he ‘can’t fix it’

Pompeo ahead of Netanyahu meet: Iran deal does not ensure they won’t get nukes

Macron, Rouhani agree to work on saving Iran nuclear deal

Rouhani tells Macron Iran nuke deal is ‘not negotiable’

Hanegbi: We will prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria

Israel Will Continue to Operate Freely in Syria, Defense Minister Says

Liberman: Israel will react forcefully if Syria uses S-300 against it

Israel preparing for emergency sessions at UN Security Council, says Ambassador Danon, adds that ‘rules of the game for Iran’ will change

Explosions reported at alleged Iranian militia base in northern Syria

Syrian army says ‘enemy’ rocket attacks strike at military bases

Missile strike: Explosions reported at Iranian base in Northern Syria

Syria war: ‘Iranian personnel among dozens dead’ in missile attacks

Former intel chief: Iranian dead in Syria blast spells looming payback

US-backed forces clash with Syrian regime backed pro-Iranian militias

Syrian army says captured villages from US backed forces

Syrian army tightens noose around Palestinian camp

Pompeo stresses that Saudi Arabia’s security is a priority for US

Twin suicide bombings kill 25 in Kabul, including journalists

Kim Jong Un Willing to Rectify Relations With Japan, South Korea Says

North Korea’s Kim vows to give up weapons if US promises not to invade

U.S. warns North Korea must take ‘irreversible’ steps to denuclearize

Kim’s Charm Offensive Pressures Trump Before Summit

‘History cries out for us to be skeptical’: Experts urge caution on N. Korea’s vow to close test site

Michigan Crowd Chants ‘Nobel’ When Trump Takes Credit for North Korea Summit

Nazi symbols, salutes on display at Ukrainian nationalist march

Nazis and Porn Stars: White House Correspondents’ Dinner Goes Way Off the Rails

Russian Twitter accounts tried to help opposition in UK election

Israeli Firms Unprepared as Tough EU Data-privacy Rules Take Effect

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport closed as power outage sparks major flight delays for passengers

The new stock-market fear: Signs that a period of harmonious global growth is crumbling

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Southwest Indian Ridge

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Port-Vila, Vanuatu

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Rumung, Micronesia

Strong earthquake activity in Bardarbunga volcano

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 26,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

10 Things Christians Should Know about the Alfie Evans Case

How Cosby verdict could signal #MeToo impact on criminal justice system

Worshipers get in ‘formation’ at Beyonce-themed mass

ApostasyWatch Daily News

Mike Leake – 4 Big Heresies Still Alive in the Church

Mike Oppenheimer – About the Occult concepts and practices in the church

Andy Stanley: Church Unity Is More Important Than ‘Being Theologically Correct’

Many Americans Prefer A ‘Higher Power’ To The God Of The Bible, Study Finds

Jewish Rabbis Demand Candidate Stop Calling the Aborting of 60 Million Babies a “Holocaust”

Christians Face 2 Years in Prison for Evangelism in 8th India State to Pass ‘Anti-Conversion’ Law

United States joins forces with Israel against Iran

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 07:42 AM PDT

United States joins forces with Israel against IranUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Jordan Sunday evening on the last leg of his trip to the Middle East, which included stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, where he’ll meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II.  It was Pompeo’s first trip abroad in his new position. His theme throughout the region has been stopping Iran. Pompeo’s message on Iran was clear.  “We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s

dangerous escalation, threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s position to dominate the Middle East remains,” he said. “The United States is with Israel in this fight and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself,” he said. In a joint statement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following their meeting late Sunday afternoon, Pompeo said the words Israel wanted to hear about the Iranian nuclear deal. READ MORE

Andy Stanley Says Church Unity Is More Important Than ‘Being Theologically Correct’

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 07:32 AM PDT

Andy Stanley Says Church Unity Is More Important Than ‘Being Theologically Correct’Church unity is more important than “theological correctness,” according to North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley at a conference with approximately 8,000 attendees.  At the Orange Conference, which focuses on issues of church leadership, Stanley spoke on Thursday about the importance of Christians of different denominations being “one” in their mission.

Stanley centered on John 17, in which Jesus prayed that His followers “may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The influential author and speaker said that he found it significant that Jesus prayed for the disciples to be one, rather than for other things, including good health and being theologically accurate. READ MORE

3.1 magnitude earthquake shakes up Morristown, and Eastern TN residents

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:21 AM PDT

3.1 magnitude earthquake shakes up Morristown, and Eastern TN residentsThe National Weather Service in Morristown tweeted out information from USGS about a 3.1 magnitude earthquake shaking homes near Morristown on Sunday. It was originally reported as a 2.8 magnitude.  The earthquake happened right around 6:30 p.m. Sunday night. It appears to have happened near the Hamblen County and Grainger County border, north of both Rutledge and Morristown.  Multiple viewers

say they felt their homes shake during the quake. Earlier this week on Wednesday, a 2.9 magnitude earthquake rattled the Mascot community.  The small quakes are common in East Tennessee. Many counties across the area have seen at least one minor quake within in the 2-3 magnitude range within the last year.  READ MORE

World’s largest active geyser at Yellowstone National Park erupts for third time in six weeks

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:16 AM PDT

World’s largest active geyser at Yellowstone National Park erupts for third time in six weeksYellowstone National Park geologists have reported the third eruption from the world’s largest active geyser in the past six weeks. The National Park Service says a park visitor reported seeing a rare eruption of Steamboat Geyser on Friday.

Park geologists compared the report with seismic activity and the discharge of water and concluded the eruption probably started at 6:30 a.m.  The geyser also erupted on March 15 and April 19. All three eruptions were smaller than the last major eruption that occurred on Sept. 3, 2014. READ MORE

PROPHECY WATCH: Arab world on the brink of second wave of revolutions

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 04:46 AM PDT

PROPHECY WATCH: Arab world on the brink of second wave of revolutionsThe Arab world faces a second wave of revolutions just eight years after the Arab Spring due to uncontrolled urbanization, critical unemployment and financial pressures, according to experts.  Arab and Middle Eastern commentators said a second wave of revolts was “inevitable” as key socio-economic factors which spurred the revolutions between December 2010 and December 2012 still exist.   Mohamed Mahjoub Haroon, Professor of Social Science at the University of Khartoum, said: “Massive

uncontrolled urbanization, pressure on the job markets are, among other socio-economic factors, the leading causes behind greater expectations of the youth in the Arab societies.” Mr Haroon noted uncontrolled urbanization, economic stagnation and market forces were the three central socio-economic forces which caused the Arab Spring to spread across numerous countries in North Africa and the Middle East. He added that as long as these factors continue to exist, so too will the divides within Arab nations and the desire among their citizens to seek political change. READ MORE

New Jersey Is Dealing With A Tick Species That Is New To America

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 04:37 AM PDT

New Jersey Is Dealing With A Tick Species That Is New To AmericaLooks like a bunch of New Jersey residents survived the winter. But that is not really good news. On Friday, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced the latest follow-up to what was described in a February 2018 publication in the Journal of Medical Entomology. The publication detailed an “uptick” in the New Jersey population that occurred last Summer. On August 1 , 2017, after shearing a 12-year-old Icelandic sheep named Hannah, a farmer went to the Hunterdon County Health Office with

some new companions. Thousands of them, in fact. No, she didn’t form a flash mob. Instead, she had thousands of ticks covering her body. Yes, you can say ewe and ewwwww. What was particularly disturbing about this situation (besides the fact that she was covered with thousands of ticks) was that this was a tick species not typically found in the United States. And it certainly wasn’t one of the 5 tick species that were known to be present in New Jersey, which, of course, you know are Ixodes scapularis, Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, and Ixodes cookei.  READ MORE

The Miracle Behind Israel’s 70th Anniversary

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 04:25 AM PDT

The Miracle Behind Israel’s 70th Anniversary(By Archer and Asher Intrater) The regathering of the Jewish people is an event that was prophesied many times in the Scriptures. It is hard to fathom that what we are seeing now was actually written about thousands of years before it happened.  The days are coming, says YHVH, that they will no more say, “as YHVH lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt” from but rather “as YHVH lives who brought up the seed of

the house of Israel from the land of the North and from all the lands to which I dispersed them and brought them that they would dwell on their land” (Jer. 23:7-8). This is a huge statement. We are experiencing something greater than what the people experienced who left Egypt with Moses. This is a miracle of biblical proportions.  CONTINUE

UPDATE: Hundreds Flock to Cathedral’s ‘Beyonce Mass’ Blending Secular Pop Star’s Music With Scripture Readings, Communion

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 04:21 AM PDT

UPDATE: Hundreds Flock to Cathedral’s ‘Beyonce Mass’ Blending Secular Pop Star’s Music With Scripture Readings, CommunionAn estimated 750-900 people flocked to a San Francisco cathedral’s “Beyoncé Mass” on Wednesday night, an event that blended renditions of the secular pop star’s music with the reading of Scripture, communion, and the presentation of a related message by a seminary professor. While the event was popular with the locals, others state that the world’s music has no place being performed in what is supposed to be the holy house of God.

“Countless professing Christians seem to have little or no shame about the compromises they will make with God’s word to attract a larger crowd. Substituting godly music, filled with words that glorify the Lord, for Beyoncé’s music, is just more evidence that we are in the apostasy that was prophesied by Jesus and the apostles (2 Tim. 4:2-4),” Joe Schimmel, pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California and host of the documentary “They Sold Their Souls for Rock ‘N’ Roll,” told Christian News Network. The event, hosted at Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill, was part of the weekly “Vine” offering, first launched in March 2017 for “urbanites and spiritual seekers.”  READ MORE

University of Texas to Treat Masculinity as a ‘Mental Health’ Issue

Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:23 PM PDT

University of Texas to Treat Masculinity as a ‘Mental Health’ IssueThe Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin recently launched a new program to help male students “take control over their gender identity and develop a healthy sense of masculinity.”  Treating masculinity as if it were a mental health crisis, “MasculinUT” is organized by the school’s counseling staff and most recently organized a poster series encouraging students to develop a

“healthy model of masculinity.” The program is predicated on a critique of so-called “restrictive masculinity.” Men, the program argues, suffer when they are told to “act like a man” or when they are encouraged to fulfill traditional gender roles, such as being “successful” or “the breadwinner.”  READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: 80,000 Iranian fighters’ could launch ground invasion to break up Israel

Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:17 PM PDT

RUMORS OF WAR: 80,000 Iranian fighters’ could launch ground invasion to break up IsraelThe shock revelation of an alleged Iranian base in Syria, close to the Israeli border, holding up to 80,000 fighters has threatened to push the world closer to an outbreak of conflict, according to expert commentators on the BBC.  The Israeli ambassador to the UN revealed earlier this week a photo of an alleged Iranian base near Damascus, holding up to 80,000 fighters. In response, Israel insisted the country would launch a military strike to prevent Tehran from launching a ground invasion across the

nearby border. Ambassador Danny Danon presented the aerial photograph on Thursday, telling the UN Security Council: “There are over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control. “It is at this base, just over five miles from Damascus, where these dangerous extremists are trained and then assigned their missions of terror throughout Syria and the region.” READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Military targets in Syria struck by unidentified aircraft

Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:08 PM PDT

DEVELOPING: Military targets in Syria struck by unidentified aircraftPowerful explosions have been heard in the countryside of Hama and Aleppo provinces, the Syrian state news agency reports. The state media says military bases there were hit by rockets launched by an unspecified enemy.  The alleged attacks were reported by Syria’s Sana news agency on Sunday evening. Citing a military source, it said that “a new aggression with hostile missiles” took place at around 10:30 pm local time, targeting military positions in the Hama and Aleppo villages.  A Syrian law enforcement

source told RIA Novosti that the army’s munition depots were hit, in what was most likely an airstrike. The source said one of the targeted military sites was a munition depot belonging to the Syrian Army’s 47th Brigade. A fire at the depot broke out as a result of the attack, he said. Another target was reportedly a munition depot to the east of Aleppo, in northern Syria, located between the Al-Malikiayh and Al-Nayrab airport. READ MORE

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April 30, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

False Leaders Are Cursed for Their Inversion

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (23:23–24)

Fourth, Jesus cursed the scribes and Pharisees for inverting divine priorities. They magnified the insignificant and minimized the essential.

Mint and dill and cummin were garden herbs used as kitchen spices, and were not generally considered farm produce, of which the Mosaic law required a tithe be paid to the treasury in Israel (Lev. 27:30). Because it helped support the government, which was a theocracy operated to a great extent by the priesthood, the tithe was a form of taxation. A second tenth was to be paid each year for support of the various worship ceremonies and national festivals (Deut. 12:11, 17). Another tithe was to be paid every three years for a type of welfare, to support the Levites, aliens, orphans, and widows (Deut. 14:28–29), which amounted to an additional 3.3 percent a year. Israelites were therefore required to pay just over 23 percent of their income a year in taxes to fund the theocracy.

The instructions for tithing produce (see also Deut. 14:22) related to marketable farm crops such as grains, olive oil, wine, fruits, and vegetables. But the legalistic scribes and Pharisees extended the provision to include the smallest potted plant grown in a kitchen window. As today, herbs then were grown mostly for their leaves and seeds, and when the scribes and Pharisees picked leaves from a mint plant or gathered seeds from the dill and cummin plants, they would carefully count out the leaves and seeds, separating out one for God from each ten counted. They gloried in the self-righteousness of subscribing to such minutiae.

But with all their carefulness in such insignificant and often noncompulsory matters, they neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. They were obsessed with counting leaves and seeds but indifferent to basic ethics.

Jesus borrowed the word weightier from the rabbinical tradition, which had divided the law into light and heavy categories. In their inverted priorities the scribes and Pharisees had reduced such matters as justice and mercy and faithfulness to the light category, and elevated the tithing of garden herbs to the weightier category. In His reference to the truly weightier matters, Jesus paraphrased the words of Micah. Some 700 years earlier that prophet had declared, “[The Lord] has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8).

The scribes and Pharisees were inequitable, unfair, unjust, unmerciful, brutal, unforgiving, unkind, greedy, and abusive of others. They were everything that is contrary to the weightier provisions of the law. Worst of all, they walked by sight rather than faith, trusting in their own works rather than God’s grace.

Jesus did not denounce the tithing of herbs, which would have been perfectly acceptable if done in sincerity and faith. And because tithing was at that time still a valid requirement under the Old Covenant, He certainly did not reprove tithing in general. “These are the things you should have done,” He said, “without neglecting the others.” In light of the fact that such garden plants had not generally been considered covered under the Mosaic laws of tithing until rabbinical times, it seems likely that by these … things Jesus was referring to tithing in general. In other words, while being faithful to tithe according to scriptural instruction, they should not have neglected the Lord’s much weightier demands.

The tithe, however, was strictly a requirement of the Old Covenant. It is mentioned only six times in the New Testament, three times each in the gospels and in the book of Hebrews. In the gospels it is always used, as here, in regard to its abuse by the scribes and Pharisees (see also Luke 11:42; 18:12). In the book of Hebrews the Mosaic tithe is mentioned only in regard to its use in ancient Israel (Heb. 7:8–9; vv. 5–6). At no time in the New Testament is tithing mentioned as binding on the church or even recommended as the standard for Christian giving. This is easy to understand if one recognizes that tithes were a form of taxation to support the national life of Israel (see the author’s 1 Corinthians [Chicago: Moody, 1984], pp. 454–55). The closest New Testament parallel is the requirement to pay taxes indicated in Romans 13:6–7.

Almost without exception, false religions strongly magnify the insignificant and minimize or entirely ignore the truly spiritual. The worldly is idolized; the spiritual is disregarded.

It is also possible for true believers to become caught up in minutiae. Some Bible students, for instance, claim to have ascertained the meaning of virtually every obscure sign and symbol in Scripture yet give scant attention in their lives to the Bible’s clear and unambiguous moral truths.

Jesus graphically illustrated the scribes’ and Pharisees’ inversion of priorities by saying that they would strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. The gnat and the camel represented the smallest and the largest, respectively, of the ceremonially unclean animals (see Lev. 11:4, 42). Fastidious Pharisees would drink their wine through clenched teeth in order to filter out any small insects that might have gotten into the wine. In their typical reversal of values, those Jewish religious leaders were more concerned about being contaminated by a tiny gnat than by a huge camel. They were painstaking about formal, ceremonial trivialities but were unconcerned about their hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, greed, self-worship, and a host of other serious sins. They substituted outward acts of religion for the essential virtues of the heart.[1]

23–24 The OT law on tithing (Dt 14:22–29) specifies grain, wine, and oil, though Leviticus 27:30 is more comprehensive. Certainly in the first century, there was debate about how far the law of tithing should extend. The consensus was to include greens and garden herbs (v. 23; Str-B, 1:932). Jesus does not condemn scrupulous observance in these things (“without neglecting the former”) but insists that to fuss over them while neglecting the “more important matters of the law” (cf. 22:34–40)—justice, mercy, and pistis (GK 4411; here rightly translated “faithfulness”)—is to strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (v. 24), both unclean creatures.

Several points deserve notice.

  1. The “weightier” matters are not the “more difficult” or “harder” but the “more central,” “most decisive” (Ridderbos, Coming of the Kingdom, 302) or (as in NIV) “more important” versus “peripheral” or trifling ones (cf. TDNT, 1:554, 558; Kaiser, “Weightier and Lighter Matters,” 184).
  2. Yet it goes much too far to interpret vv. 23–24 as expanding the love command into the central feature of the law (see comments at 22:34–40 and literature cited there; also Garland, Intention of Matthew 23, 139).
  3. In essence, what Jesus accuses the teachers of the law and the Pharisees of is a massive distortion of God’s will as revealed in Scripture. At a fundamental level, they fail to focus on the thrust of Scripture, a point made with equal force in the two references to Hosea 6:6 in this gospel (see comments at 9:9–13; 12:1–14).
  4. The chiastic structure of the “woes” centers on this fourth one, where the basic failure of the Pharisaic teachers is laid bare. Moving out from this center, it becomes clear that where Scripture is interpreted by the Pharisees, there is danger of misappropriation of truth (woes 3 and 5) and of corrupting other people (woes 2 and 6), coupled with blindness to true revelation when it comes supremely in the person of Jesus the Messiah (woes 1 and 7).
  5. All this presupposes that Jesus holds readers of the OT responsible for discerning its purpose and recognizing its most important emphases (see comments at 22:40). Only those who do this please God and recognize the Messiah (cf. Lk 24:44–46; Jn 5:39–40).
  6. The current debate over the words “without neglecting the former”—namely, whether they show Jesus or Matthew as a very conservative interpreter of the law, or whether they can possibly come from the historical Jesus (cf. Garland, Intention of Matthew 23, 140 n. 66; Westerholm, Jesus and Scribal Authority, 58–59)—badly misses the point. For neither Jesus nor Matthew do these verses focus on the problem of continuity/discontinuity between the OT and the reign of Jesus Messiah but on the relative importance of material within the OT. Jesus describes what the Pharisees should have done; he is not here questioning how the “former” will relate to the reign he now inaugurates (12:28) or the church he will build (16:19), any more than in vv. 16–22 he discusses what role the temple altar plays under the new covenant.[2]

23:23–24 / The fourth woe relates to the Pharisees’ practice of scrupulously tithing even the vegetables and spices of the garden but failing in the weightier demands of justice, mercy, and integrity. “These last,” said Jesus “you ought to have put in practice, without neglecting the first” (TCNT). According to Deuteronomy 14:22, the Israelites were to “set aside a tenth of all that [their] fields produce each year.” Mint (hēdyosmon) was a garden plant, as was dill (anēthon), and was used for seasoning. Cummin (kyminon, of Phoenician origin) produced tiny fruits (or “seeds”) that were tithed despite their slight value (BAGD, p. 457). Jesus does not oppose their practice of tithing garden spices, but criticizes them for having neglected the essential qualities of justice and fidelity (cf. Mic. 6:2). Their hypocrisy lay in their desire to appear conscientious about even the minute details of religious law while ignoring those central issues that were infinitely more important. They are blind leaders who filter their wine in order to avoid drinking a ceremonially unclean gnat (cf. Lev. 11:41; perhaps the larva of a gnat) yet gulp down a camel (v. 24). There may be a wordplay in Aramaic between “gnat” and “camel” (the words sound very much alike). In any case, it is a typical example of Jesus’ use of hyperbole (cf. 7:3 and 19:24 as well).[3]23:23–24.The fourth woe. The same could be said about Jesus’ fourth accusation, which, like the third, showed how the Jewish leaders had perverted God’s law to allow them to disobey its true intent.

The hypocrites tithed (gave ten percent) of everything, right down to the herbs in their pantry—mint, dill and cummin (see Old Testament laws on tithing in Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22–29). As with their vows and zealous evangelism (23:15), this looked quite righteous to the undiscerning observer, so the leaders received much respect.

But their tithing served only as a smoke screen, distracting people from noticing that they had neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness (cf. Deut. 10:12–13; Mic. 6:8). They made it appear that they were paying “full rent,” when in reality they were only keeping up the “newspaper subscription.” The implication is that they were guilty of committing injustice and acting unmercifully at the expense of others and for their own profit.

Jesus did not say the hypocrites were wrong in their tithing. Rather, he said they should have given greater attention to these more important matters of the law while also giving attention to their tithing and other requirements. Compare this with “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6, quoted by Jesus in Matt. 9:13; 12:7).

As in the third woe, Jesus again called the Jewish leaders blind guides. Their self-deception about the various Old Testament laws also deceived the people who followed them, so no one knew how to go about pleasing God.

Jesus’ hyperbole in verse 24 was humorous. His hearers would have chuckled at the picture of the Pharisees straining out a small insect (gnat) while swallowing a huge camel.

In their self-serving greed, the leaders of Israel had perverted the law into a man-made version that allowed them to get away with a show of obedience while avoiding true obedience. And they led others into similar disobedience.[4]

23, 24. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, but have neglected the more important requirements of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.… On the one hand these men scrupulously observed the tithing ordinance of Lev. 27:30–33; Deut. 14:22–29. In fact, as was usual with them, they even overdid it, by giving to the Lord the tenth portion of the small aromatic herbs which they grew in their gardens, and requiring their followers to do likewise. As they saw it, the “sweet-smelling” mint, the well-known dill, and the small, tender seeds of cummin (or cumin), all three of this series being used to flavor food, must by all means be tithed! Now in the law of Moses not a word is said about tithing these. However, if a person had reminded these scribes and company of this fact, they would immediately have answered, “But does not the law definitely demand that ‘all the increase of your seed’ be tithed?” To the mind of a scribe or Pharisee this would have amounted to an unanswerable argument in favor of their position. However, careful examination of the context shows that what the law really meant—at least emphasized—was that, as far as products of the field were concerned, the three “great” crops of the land, namely, grain, wine, and oil, should be tithed. Scribes and Pharisees were always illegitimately over-extending or over-stretching the law. Was not that exactly what they also did with respect to fasting, hand-rinsing, sabbath-observance, etc.?

However, they committed even a far greater sin: their inflexible insistence on tithing mint, dill, and cummin was coupled with neglect of the more important requirements of the law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. They stressed human regulations at the expense of divine ordinances! It is upon this point that all the emphasis is placed here in verses 23, 24.

As to the triad “justice and mercy and faithfulness,” it would be difficult to find a better commentary than the one offered in Mic. 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does Jehovah require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” So interpreted we see immediately that the combination justice and mercy means the exercise of fairness and helpfulness with respect to the neighbor. This so often was the exact opposite of the attitude of the scribe and Pharisee toward the common people of their generation (see on verse 25), and had also been lacking in the Israel of Micah’s day, as is clearly indicated in Mic. 2:2, 9; 3:2, 3. We shall have no trouble therefore in explaining these concepts when we examine them in the light of their specific contexts. In Micah’s day the Lord’s “controversy” was pre-eminently with the leaders: the prophets, priests, and princes. Therefore Micah denounced idolatry and hollow ritualism. So also Christ’s controversy is with the leaders, whose similar hollow ritualism he condemns. There is also this further parallel between Mic. 6:8 and Matt. 23:23, that in both cases not only the duty a man owes to his neighbors is emphasized (for this see also Zech. 7:8–10; Col. 3:12, 13), but in the same breath also his obligation toward God: walking humbly with him, being and remaining faithful or loyal to him. Such faithfulness cannot exist apart from faith in God!

Jesus adds: but these you should have kept, without neglecting the others. This addition has led to conflicting interpretations. As I see it, two extreme positions should be avoided. On the one hand we should not interpret this to mean that, after all, Jesus is here endorsing the tithing of mint, dill, and cummin. If he were saying this, would he not be defeating his very argument? Besides, the parallelism in verse 24 shows that the Lord is subjecting such overly conscientious tithing to scorn and is comparing it to filtering out a gnat but swallowing a camel! On the other hand, it is not necessary, it would appear to me, to draw the conclusion that since these words seem to be out of line with Christ’s doctrine of freedom and with his entire argument against the scribes and Pharisees, he cannot have uttered them; so that, consequently, they must be regarded as a marginal note which, without any justification, was by a legalistic scribe subsequently inserted into the text. What Jesus probably meant was this: “These, that is, God’s ordinances with respect to tithing, you should have observed, without neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” As long as the divinely enacted ceremonial ordinances had not been blotted out (Col. 2:14), that is, as long as Jesus had not as yet died on the cross, the law with respect to tithing was still valid. The reference here is to God’s law, as actually found in Lev. 27:30–33 (and a few other places), not to man-made over-extensions of God’s law. Such totally unwarranted misapplications and misuses of the law had, of course, never been justified.

When the question is asked, “What principles does the New Testament contain to guide the believer in the financial contributions toward kingdom causes which he should make, and by gratitude feels impelled to make, the answer would be as follows: a. he should give systematically and proportionately, that is, in proportion to his ability (1 Cor. 16:2); and b. he should give generously and cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7).

Jesus adds: You blind guides, who strain out the gnat but swallow the camel. This is not an entirely new thought. It is simply another and very impressive way of repeating the same denunciation and stressing the same truth. By tithing mint, dill, and cummin, while ignoring justice, mercy, and faithfulness, these enemies of Christ were indeed straining out a gnat (unclean, Lev. 11:42), while gulping down a camel (also unclean, Lev. 11:4)! It is perhaps unnecessary to add that this is figurative language, the type of style Jesus is using repeatedly (see also 5:13, 29, 30, 39; 7:3–6; 8:22; 12:43–45; 18:8, 9; 21:21; etc.). The meaning is: they were paying no attention to the really important requirements of God’s law but spending all their thought and energy on that which was totally unimportant. No wonder that Jesus prefaces his metaphor by calling these men “blind guides.” To be blind is sad enough; but, while in this condition, to serve as a guide, that is disastrous for all those who allow themselves to be guided by such willfully blind men.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 3, pp. 383–385). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 539–540). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (p. 217). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 377–378). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 831–833). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Benjamin Franklin On “The Press”

“If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall chearfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself.” —Benjamin Franklin (1789)

April 30 Monday: “What Can Man Do to Me?”

By James Boice on Apr 30, 2018 12:00 am

What can man do to me? We know the answer to that, and we do not have to think about it very much. The answer is: A lot! And to prove it all we have to do is read the morning’s newspaper. The week I wrote this study, on just one day, I read these stories.

Read more…

Christian, Are You Growing in Wisdom and Maturity? — Tim Challies

There’s a call on every Christian to grow and keep growing in wisdom and maturity. In this video I discuss the difference between the two and encourage younger people (and older people!) to commit themselves to these key traits. 895 more words

via Christian, Are You Growing in Wisdom and Maturity? — Tim Challies

The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #2: Are We Born Sinners in Need of Salvation? — Canon Fodder

“At the very root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the consciousness of sin.” –J. Gresham Machen (p.64) I’ve been working my way through a new series entitled “ 957 more words

via The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #2: Are We Born Sinners in Need of Salvation? — Canon Fodder

New Series: The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity — Canon Fodder

In 1923, J. Gresham Machen, then professor at Princeton Seminary, wrote the book, Christianity and Liberalism. The book was a response to the rise of liberalism in the mainline denominations of his own day. 563 more words

via New Series: The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity — Canon Fodder

10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #1: Is Jesus Our Lord or Our Example? — Canon Fodder

Last week I announced a new series entitled “The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity,” based off a list offered by Richard Rohr. This list embodies the type of theological liberalism that was battled by Machen in the early 20th century and still abides today. 1,461 more words

via 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #1: Is Jesus Our Lord or Our Example? — Canon Fodder

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Gives the Perfect, Grace-Filled Response to Vile Correspondents’ Dinner Attack — Faithwire

A journalist who was in the room Saturday night during comedian Michelle Wolf’s horrendous remarks at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner is speaking out about the dreadful experience. During her bizarre and decidedly not-funny address, Wolf roasted Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, mocking her for her deeply-held religious beliefs and conservative values. ‘Christaphobe’: Mike…

via Sarah Huckabee Sanders Gives the Perfect, Grace-Filled Response to Vile Correspondents’ Dinner Attack — Faithwire

Southern Baptist Lobbying Group Silent on Religious Liberty Threat in California — Christian Research Network

(Alan D, Atchison – SBC Today) Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission not living up to Religious Liberty part of name; Russell Moore fiddles while religious liberty burns Ethics and Religious Liberty President Russell Moore and the Southern Baptist organization committed to our liberty has been strangely silent as numerous Christian leaders and religious liberty organizations…

via Southern Baptist Lobbying Group Silent on Religious Liberty Threat in California — Christian Research Network


Rejoice in the LORD always: and again I say, Rejoice.


One characteristic that is largely lacking in the average church today is that of spiritual anticipation.

When Christians meet, they do not expect anything unusual to happen: consequently, only the usual happens, and that usual is as predictable as the setting of the sun.

A psychology of nonexpectation pervades the assembly, a mood of quiet ennui which the minister by various means tries to dispel, the means depending upon the cultural level of the congregation and particularly of the minister.

Christian expectation in the average church follows the program, not the promises. The activities of the saints are laid out for them by those who are supposed to know what they need better than they do. Prevailing spiritual conditions, however low, are accepted as inevitable—what will be is what has been!

The weary slaves of the dull routine find it impossible to hope for anything better.

Today we need a fresh spirit of anticipation that springs out of the promises of God! We must declare war on the mood of nonexpectation, and come together with childlike faith. Only then can we know again the beauty and wonder of the Lord’s presence among us.[1]

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

04/30/18 His Faithful Love —

READING: 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17; Psalms 1-2, 33, 127, 132

“May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 33:22

God made all things, and He rules over them all. He made the heavens “by the word of the Lord” and the stars “by the breath of his mouth” (Psa. 33:6). He also rules over all things; “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation” (Psa. 33:11). He sees all things, knows all people, and “considers all their works” (Psa. 33:15). His word is right, and “all his work is trustworthy” (Psa. 33:4). He is the one and only powerful, creative, and ruling God!

And . . . this magnificent God loves His people. He is not some being who keeps His distance from His created world; rather, “the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love” (Psa. 33:5). He knows our hearts, and still He loves us anyway. He is a righteous and just God, yet He “keeps his eye on those who fear him—those who depend on his faithful love” (Psa. 33:18). When I meditate on all these thoughts, it’s easy to understand why the psalmist concluded this psalm with these words: “May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you” (Psa. 33:22).

Think about this truth: God’s faithful love rests on us. When we face health struggles, His love rests on us. When financial difficulties surround us, His love rests on us. When we can’t sleep at night, His love rests on us. When our children are wandering, still His love rests on us. When it seems like He’s not listening to our prayers, we can keep trusting that His love rests on us. And, should we face death today, His love rests on us into eternity.

He is still “our help and shield” (Psa. 33:20), and we can rejoice in Him.


  • Ask God for faith to trust His love today.
  • Even if life unexpectedly gets hard today, rest in Him.

PRAYER: “Thank You, God, for your faithful love.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18 ​

via 04/30/18 His Faithful Love —

The Self-Existent God — Ligonier Ministries Blog

When God revealed His name “I AM” to Moses at the burning bush, He was revealing something very important about Himself, namely, that He is self-existent; He has the power of being in and of Himself. He depends on nothing and no one for His existence. This fact has enormous consequences for how we understand…

via The Self-Existent God — Ligonier Ministries Blog

April 30 Jesus on God’s Love: For Enemies

But I say to you, love your enemies.—Matt. 5:44a

People tend to base love on the attractiveness and likeability of the one loved. They love the so-called beautiful people, enjoyable activities, nice houses, and sharp cars. That list could go on, but Jesus’ kind of love is need oriented. In His parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29, 36–37), the Samaritan showed tremendous love because he sacrificed his own convenience, safety, and finances to help a desperately needy man.

The love our Lord sets forth here is translated from the Greek agapē, the noblest and best New Testament love. It is the form of love that strives to meet another’s utmost welfare. Such love may involve emotion, but it must involve action. Like every aspect of righteousness, love originates in the regenerate heart, but it shows its fullest potential by what it does. More than anything, this kind of love is the love God is, expresses, and provides (Rom. 5:5, 8; 1 John 4:7–12), which allows us to love as He loved.

When Christ told His apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34), He had just washed their feet as an example of agapē love. The apostles were self-centered, quarrelsome, envious of one another, and even sometimes challenged the Lord. Yet Jesus always did for them what was for their good. And this is how He wants all of us who claim to follow Him to show love—even for our enemies.


Few biblical mandates are more unnatural to our desires and experiences, but few make us a more sterling example of the difference Christ makes in an ordinary individual’s life. If you are currently dealing with situations that call for this kind of love, how do you intend to express it?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 129). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 30 A Cleansed Conscience

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:14

Our safety in Christ results from “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:21). The Greek word for “answer” refers to a pledge, in this case agreeing to meet certain conditions required by God before being placed into the ark of safety (Christ).

Unregenerate men and women have consciences that condemn them. One who appeals to God for a good conscience is sick of his sin and desires to be delivered from the load of guilt he bears. He has a crushing and intimidating fear of coming judgment and knows only God can deliver him. He desires the cleansing that comes through the blood of Christ (cf. Heb. 10:22). So he repents of his sin and pleads for forgiveness.

When Christ suffered on the cross, hell threw all its fury at Him, and wicked men vented their hatred on Him. Yet through that suffering, He served as an ark of safety for the redeemed of all ages. And because He triumphantly provided salvation through His suffering, we are safe in Him.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 135). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.