Daily Archives: April 9, 2018

April 9: The Global Reset Button

Deuteronomy 15:1–17:20; 2 Corinthians 4:7–18; Psalm 37:1–22

When I was a kid, I loved playing Super Nintendo—especially Donkey Kong. Despite my love for it, it would just make me angry at times. When I couldn’t handle the way the game was panning out, I would slam down the controller and hit the reset button. I would start fresh. It’s more than a little sad that my entertainment made me act like a caveman. Yet those moments of resetting the entire system felt like another chance at life (albeit a virtual one).

With the state of the global economy, it often feels like the world needs a reset. It’s tempting to say something as radical as, “Let’s forgive all debts and start again.” Though this couldn’t happen—and it would be highly problematic since the statement depends on good will, free economy, and general care for one another—it doesn’t stop us from hoping.

God actually created a system for this audacious idea: in the Year of Jubilee, or the Sabbatical Year, slaves were freed and debts were forgiven (Deut 15), people were celebrated as equals (Deut 16), and the land was given a rest to prevent famine. (Famine was often caused by overworking the land.) It was a reset button.

The global economy is complex. I’m not suggesting that it’s time for a Year of Jubilee, but maybe it is time for an economic evaluation of our lives. Who is God calling you to forgive? Whose life could be better if you lifted their debts? Who needs your generosity right now? Who could you make an equal by changing something about your work or friendship? How can you celebrate with those who feel like lesser people in this world?

The economy proves the point that we are all interdependent. It also makes the case that doing something for those at the bottom of the economic ladder can have a massive impact—not just on them, but on others. Those that are forgiven are likely to forgive.

Whose life can you make better today? Who can you bring jubilee (celebration) to?

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 9 Inheriting the Earth

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

✧✧✧

Someday God will reverse the curse and return the earth to His people.

God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But their sin cost them their sovereignty and brought a curse upon the earth (Gen. 3:17–18).

The Apostle Paul said, “The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God … in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom. 8:19–21). Someday that curse will be reversed, and God’s people will once again inherit the earth.

The Greek word translated “inherit” (Matt. 5:5) means “to receive an allotted portion.” The earth is the allotted portion of believers, who will reign with the Lord when He comes in His Kingdom (Rev. 20:6). That’s an emphatic promise in Matthew 5:5, which literally reads, “Blessed are the gentle, for only they shall inherit the earth.”

Many Jewish people of Christ’s day thought the Kingdom belonged to the strong, proud, and defiant. But Jesus said the earth will belong to the gentle, meek, and humble. Proud, self-righteous people don’t qualify (cf. Luke 1:46–55). Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become [humble and submissive] like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).

As a recipient of God’s promises, you should be thrilled knowing that you will inherit the earth and reign with Christ in His earthly Kingdom. Be encouraged to know that even when evil people and godless nations seem to prosper, God is in complete control and will someday establish His righteous Kingdom on earth.

Rejoice in that assurance, and seek to be all He wants you to be until that great day.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that all of creation will someday be freed from sin’s corrupting influences. ✧ Praise Him for His mighty power, which will bring it all to pass.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 6:1–8. ✧ What issue did Paul address? ✧ How does the future reign of Christians apply to that issue?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 112). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

APRIL 9 “I WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU!”

And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:20

Men without God suffer alone and die alone in times of war and in other circumstances of life. All alone!

But it can never be said that any true soldier of the cross of Jesus Christ, no man or woman as missionary or messenger of the Truth has ever gone out to a ministry alone!

There have been many Christian martyrs—but not one of them was on that mission field all alone. Jesus Christ keeps His promise of taking them by the hand and leading them triumphantly through to the world beyond.

We can sum it up by noting that Jesus Christ asks us only to surrender to His lordship and obey His commands. When the Spirit of God deals with our young people about their own missionary responsibility, Christ assures them of His presence and power as they prepare to go: “All power is given unto Me! I am no longer in the grave. I will protect you. I will support you. I will go ahead of you. I will give you effectiveness for your witness and ministry. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations—I will never leave you nor forsake you!”

Thank You, Lord, that You are very near to me and my loved ones at all times.[1]


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

April 9, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Israeli aircraft carried out an attack on an airbase in Syria early Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said, shifting suspicion away from the U.S. after President Donald Trump had vowed retaliation for a reported chemical weapons attack.

Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott will announce he’s running for the U.S. Senate Monday, according to Politico, challenging third-term Democrat Bill Nelson in a showdown that’s likely to be one of the year’s most expensive and bruising fights.

Federal agencies from the Department of Transportation to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation are expected to sign an agreement Monday that seeks to slash the time needed for environmental review and permitting on major infrastructure projects, White House official said.

Some South African cities are “on the brink of collapse” and “can’t be allowed to fail,” Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said.

Saudi Arabia plans to build a military base and nuclear dump on a proposed project that would turn the peninsula of Qatar into an island, the Al Riyadh newspaper reported.

China is evaluating the potential impact of a gradual yuan depreciation, people familiar with the matter said, as the country’s leaders weigh their options in a trade spat with U.S. President Donald Trump that has roiled financial markets worldwide.

A Congressional critic of Facebook Inc. said lawmakers may need to consider regulating the social media giant, ahead of two days of high-profile congressional testimony by founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

AP Top Stories

North Korea has told the United States for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets President Donald Trump, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

The number of Facebook users whose data political research firm Cambridge Analytica obtained “absolutely” could be higher than Facebook’s recent estimate of 87 million, according to whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

A proposal from the Trump administration would open about 90% of America’s coast to new offshore drilling with only one state receiving an exemption: Florida.

A rebel ambush in Yemen killed dozens of Sudanese soldiers belonging to a Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of the government, military sources and the insurgents said Saturday.

South Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill that would give the state capital the power to secede from the United States if the federal government violates the Second Amendment and begins seizing legally purchased guns.

Hundreds attended the funeral of a well-known Palestinian journalist in Gaza on Saturday who was killed while covering mass protests along the Israeli border the previous day.

Mark Esper, secretary of the U.S. Army, said the United States should expect its enemies, such as Russia and China, to rapidly increase their weapons stockpiles and technology, as well as a host of other variables.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a United Nations base in Central African Republic’s capital late on Sunday, capping a day that saw at least one civilian killed and dozens of people injured, a U.N. spokesman said.

Frank Luntz, a leading Republican pollster, has predicted Donald Trump could take a hit in the 2018 midterm election, with Republicans in danger of losing control of the Congress and the Senate.

A section of route 30 has collapsed and damaged an apartment building in East Pittsburgh following recent rain.

A series of shallow earthquakes shook parts of western Japan on Monday and authorities warned that further strong shaking is possible over the coming days.

The Philippines is looking to seal a pact with China within a few months to jointly explore for oil and gas in a part of the busy South China Sea waterway claimed by both countries, a Philippine official said on Monday.

The Air Forces recently released Bomber Vector calls for wide range of new technologies for the fleet – to include newer stealth materials, faster computer processors, upgraded weapons and new sensors to ensure the force will still be able to launch attacks in more advanced, future high-threat scenarios spanning into the 2050s.

A new round of talks on the use of so-called killer robots reopened at the United Nations on Monday, with a focus on defining the characteristics of autonomous lethal weapons.

BBC

Scientists have compiled a record of snowfall in Antarctica going back 200 years. The study shows there has been a significant increase in precipitation over the period, up 10%. The effect of the extra snow locked up in Antarctica is to slightly slow a general trend in global sea-level rise.

Texas is deploying National Guard members to the border with Mexico following a call from President Trump. A Guard spokesman said 250 personnel would be sent to patrol the area.

WND

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a tough crackdown on knives Sunday as the city reels from a spike in stabbings that have led its number of homicides to top New York City’s for two straight months.

People are surging to sign up for training to carry concealed weapons in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, as experts say sustained media coverage and calls for more gun control encourage people to look for ways to protect themselves.

A 27 year old woman in Ulyanovsk Russia has died in excruciating agony after she was embalmed alive due to a horrific medical blunder.


The Briefing — Monday, April 9, 2018

1) Tragedies in Canada and Syria expose differences between natural evil and moral evil

CNN (Ralph Ellis, Nicole Chavez, Carma Hassan) –
At least 15 killed in bus crash involving Canadian junior hockey team

2) Syria, chemical weapons, and Just War Theory: Why there is no way to underestimate man’s capacity for moral evil

New York Times (Ben Hubbard) –
Dozens Suffocate in Syria as Government Is Accused of Chemical Attack

Washington Post (Louisa Luveluck and Erin Cunningham) –
Dozens killed in apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria, rescue workers say

3) Secular world grapples with the reality of evil even as it lacks the basic categories for understanding its meaning

New York Times (Robert Leonard) –
Why Gun Culture Is So Strong in Rural America

Washington Post (E.J. Dionne) –
Liberals are well aware of the capacity for evil


The brave new age of gender-neutral kids

(Margaret Wente – The Globe and Mail) “Men and women exhibit significant behavioural differences not (or not only) because they’re socialized differently, but because they’re wired differently. Give a girl a pot and she’ll play house. Give a boy a pot and he’ll beat it like a drum.”

When Storm was born seven years ago in Toronto, he or she became the most famous baby in the city. That’s because Storm’s parents announced that they were going to raise the baby as gender neutral. “If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” Storm’s father, David Stocker, told The Toronto Star. In an e-mail, Storm’s parents told their friends, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now – a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.”

Storm’s parents, it turns out, weren’t oddballs. They were pioneers. More and more progressive parents have decided to liberate their children from the chains of gender. They give their children gender-neutral names such as Zoomer or Scout. They refer to them using gender-neutral pronouns. They buy them gender-neutral toys and scrupulously avoid pink and blue. They tell people that it’s up to the child theirself to decide what gender they identify with.

These parents don’t like the term gender-neutral, explains New York magazine. They prefer gender-open, gender-creative or gender-affirming. For them, the gender binary is a trap constructed by society to imprison their children and restrict their human potential. Gender is a spectrum, not a binary, they argue. They hope that freeing our children from the shackles of arbitrarily imposed gender norms will be the first steps in a sweeping cultural change to create a better, fairer, more egalitarian society.

Progressive parents are not alone in this Utopian project. Sweden is also engaged in a deliberate experiment in social engineering. Instead of “boys” and “girls,” teachers are urged to call the children “friends.” Many Swedish preschools have dropped gendered pronouns in favour of the newly invented gender-neutral term “hen.”View article →


News – 4/9/2018

Two major crop scourges are hybridizing to produce a new mega-pest
The impact of these evolving pests is already damaging agricultural output in Brazil, and the researchers warn that if these mega-pests establish as a discrete species it would be agriculturally problematic for the entire Americas and beyond.

Was Monday’s Strike in Syria the Damascus Fire Prophesied by Jeremiah?
Rabbi Yekutiel Fish, known in Israel as the author of the Torah blog “Sod Ha’Chashmal,” understands the recent attack as having end-of-days ramifications. “Jeremiah predicted a fire in the fortresses of Damascus that will presage Messiah,” “Though the Arabs certainly did not intend a reference to the Midrash, Assad is referred to in the Arab world as the ‘Nero of the East,” Rabbi Fish explained.

“Toxic Assets”: Ruble Crashes, Russian Stocks Plunge Most In 4 Years After US Sanctions
Last Friday’s sanctions imposed by the US on Putin-allied Russian oligarchs and billionaires – including aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska – as well as associated companies, have had an adverse impact on both the Russian currency and local equities, with the ruble crashing 2.3% to a fresh YTD low of 60 to the USD, the biggest drop since November 2016 and bringing the 3-day drop to 3.5%…

Apple Co-Founder Deletes His Facebook Page
Elon Musk isn’t the only Silicon Valley luminary to delete Facebook pages (or rather, the pages belonging to Tesla and SpaceX) in response to the widening scandal over how Facebook stores, shares, leverages and sells its users’ personal data: on Sunday, Woz also deactivated his account saying the social network had brought him “more negatives than positives.” “I am in the process of leaving Facebook. It’s brought me more negatives than positives. Apple has more secure ways to share things about yourself. I can still deal with old school email and text messages.”

Trump’s Pro-Life Credo: Children Are Endowed with Human Dignity ‘from Conception’
In a powerful statement on the right to life of unborn children, President Donald Trump has declared that a child’s human dignity begins at conception. “We must always remember that all children are blessings from our Creator,” the president said in proclaiming April 2018 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. “They are endowed from conception with value, purpose, and human dignity.”

Two For Israel: US Blocks Second Proposed UN Probe Into Latest Gaza Escalation
For the second week in a row, the United States has blocked a United Nations (UN) Security Council statement that would demand a probe into the IDF’s response over the last two weeks, to Palestinian riots at the Gaza border.

Iran: US will ‘regret it’ if they violate the deal
Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned the United States not to cancel the 2015 “Iran deal.” “We won’t be the first ones to break the deal, but they need to know that if they break it, they will regret it,” Rouhani told participants at a conference honoring Tehran’s National Nuclear Technology Day. “We are a lot more ready than they think, and they will see that if they violate this deal, in a week – in less than a week – they will see the results.”

PA lifts ‘disguise’ on ‘martyr’ payments, defying Taylor Force Act
After three years of disguising its payments to families of martyrs and imprisoned terrorists, the Palestinian Authority has lifted its veil on those payments in a “blatant act of defiance against the US,” a new intelligence center report says. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report…argues that the PA’s removal for the first time of its disguise on payments is its response to the Taylor Force Act.

Russia, Syria accuse Israel of carrying out strike on Syrian air base
The Russian Ministry of Defense accused Israel of bombing an air base in Syria overnight, the Russian news agency Interfax reported on Monday. Syrian state media also accused Israel of carrying out the strike. Russia said Syrian air defense systems shot down five of eight missiles fired by two Israeli F-15 combat jets from Lebanese air space, Interfax said.

Iran warns: Donald Trump will regret pulling out of nuclear deal
Donald Trump will regret it if he pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, warning the US president that the Iranian response would be stronger than he thinks. US sanctions that were lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 will resume unless Trump again waives them on May 12. Trump has effectively set that as a deadline for European powers to “fix the terrible flaws” of the deal.

Israel strikes Gaza target following infiltration attempt
The Israeli Air Force struck a terrorist target belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, said the IDF on Monday morning. The IDF said the strike was executed in response to the attempted infiltration of Israeli territory by a squad of terrorists with an improvised explosive device on Sunday. The IDF attack targeted a Hamas military compound.

N Korea-US talks: Pyongyang ‘ready to discuss’ nuclear programme
North Korea has promised the US it is ready to discuss the future of its nuclear arsenal when the two nations’ leaders meet, US officials say. Preparations for the summit have included secret, direct talks with North Korea, unnamed Trump administration sources said. US and North Korean intelligence officials are said to have spoken many times, and met in a third country.

Iran hit by global cyber attack that left U.S. flag on screens
Hackers have attacked networks in a number of countries including data centers in Iran where they left the image of a U.S. flag on screens along with a warning: “Don’t mess with our elections”… “The attack apparently affected 200,000 router switches across the world in a widespread attack, including 3,500 switches in our country,” the Communication and Information Technology Ministry said in a statement carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

Chinese facial recognition company becomes world’s most valuable AI start-up
The Chinese government’s plans for mass surveillance using facial recognition have received a boost from one of the country’s tech powerhouses, after Alibaba led a $600m investment in SenseTime, which develops technology for tracking individuals. The company is working on facial and object recognition technology that accurately can spot people using cameras, recently demonstrated on CCTV in Beijing.

Arab citizens back Israel, slam Hamas over Gaza border protests
Aside from the usual clamor flooding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Arabic social media outlets denouncing Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian populace, a surprisingly large number of people voiced their support of the state…”This is the land (of Israel), and who are you?” wrote one commentator addressing the Great March of Return protesters, questioning their right of return to territories that are now Israel. “My heart is with my Jewish cousins. There is no escaping the fact that Hamas’ Palestinian terrorism will inevitably end,” he added.

Has the California backlash against liberal craziness finally begun?
…in the most ridiculous and egregious example of overreach, the state legislature says it will arrest any waiter who gives a customer a plastic straw if they don’t ask for one.  With all the problems in our state, I don’t think that jailing unsolicited straw distributors in restaurants should be a top priority.

Is Jesus Suddenly Appearing To People All Over The World Or Is It The Promised End Times Deception?
The Bible says that in the end times, there will be a worldwide deception that will take place, and people will be deceived into thinking they have met Jesus Christ when in fact they have actually met Antichrist. Now we know that this will take place during the time of Jacob’s trouble after the Rapture of the Church, but could it be that the Devil is getting a jump start on things  by manifesting himself even now?

Video: George Soros Says The Happiest Time Of His Life Was Rounding Up Jews For The Nazis
Alex Jones presents video footage of George Soros’ 60 Minutes interview where he claims that the year he worked for the Nazis, rounding up Jews for concentration camps, was the happiest time in his life.

The Real Reason Why Trump Ordered the Military to the Border
…there is a well-orchestrated coup underway against the sovereignty of the United States and the enemies of the Republic are apparent for all that have eyes to see.

Syria turns Kurds over to Turkish forces for slaughter
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse in Syria, the government in Damascus appears to be turning over the Kurdish city of Afrin to the Turkish military and pro-Turkish militias.

Russia Says ‘Chemical’ Attack In Syria ‘Fake News,’ Warns Against Intervention
Reports of an alleged gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma are ‘fake news’ aimed at justifying potential strikes against Syria, Moscow said. It warned of “dire consequences” in the event of any military interference.

American Medical Association now pushing for transgender troops on the front lines of war
The nation’s largest physicians organization has made it a top priority to demand that men who think they’re women, and women who think they’re men, be allowed to brandish high-tech weaponry and fight on the front lines of America’s proxy wars around the world.

Strikes hit Syrian airfield, state media report
A military airport in Syria has come under missile attack, the country’s state media has reported.

Muslim Mayor of London Declares New ‘Knife Control’ Policies as Fatal Stabbings Soar
The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan declared a new knife control policy as stabbings in London soar to unprecedented levels.

Bloody Nose for Brussels: Landslide Triumph as Anti-Globalist, Anti-Soros Orban Wins Third Term in Hungary
Hungary’s conservative-populist premier Viktor Orbán has won a third term in office in a landslide election victory.

Top NASA scientist previously claimed all ice will VANISH from the Arctic by this summer
Climate alarmists are everywhere — but real science continues to show that these scaremongers are the ones full of hot air. Back in 2008, a top “climate prophet” from NASA predicted that the Arctic would be free of sea ice by summer 2018. But data from 2017 has shown quite the opposite: Ice mass in the Arctic has been growing — not disappearing, much to the chagrin of climate change propagandists everywhere, no doubt.

Belgium: Islamic party says, “Our goal is a 100% Islamic State…establishing Sharia law”
For the second time in 6 years the ‘Islam’ party will participate in Belgium’s municipal elections. The party wants to create an Islamic State and separate men and women in public transport, Belgian newspaper HLN reports.

Terrorists Rt to False-Flag Chemical Attack Scenario again amid Syrian Army Rapid Advances in Douma 
Terrorists have embarked on launching a false-flag chemical operation in Douma to blame the Syrian Army for the attack, field sources said Sunday, reminding that the Syrian and Russian military forces had continuously warmed of such a move by Jeish al-Islam terrorists.


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 9, 2018

Judge Okays Infringing the Second Amendment

The legal contortions necessary for upholding Massachusetts’ ban on the AR-15 are astounding.

The Foundation

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” —James Madison (1788)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 9

  • Russia Points Finger at Israel as Missiles Strike Base in Syria (Read More)
  • Russian stock indexes, the ruble tumble on U.S. sanctions (Read More)
  • Deripaska’s Rusal Roiled by Sanctions as Aluminum Prices Jump (Read More)
  • Stocks Point Higher as Trade Concerns Ease (Read More)
  • Appointing New CEO Only Fixes One Crisis at Deutsche Bank (Read More)
  • Tough Questions Zuckerberg Can Expect From Congress (Read More)
  • Xi Takes Center Stage to Defend China’s Trade From Trump Barrage (Read More)
  • North Korea confirms that it is willing to talk about denuclearization (Read More)
  • Older, educated, white voters are shifting from GOP (Read More)
  • Europe’s Boom Reawakens the Ghost of Crisis Past (Read More)
  • Britons Back Holding a Vote on May’s Brexit Deal (Read More)
  • Saudi Plans Military Base and Nuclear Dump Near Qatar (Read More)
  • China Is Studying Yuan Devaluation as a Tool in Trade Spat (Read More)
  • As GM union faces big job losses, South Koreans turn cold shoulder (Read More)
  • America’s Virtual Border Wall Is a 1,954-Mile-Long Money Pit (Read More)
  • Meet the Judge Presiding Over the Government’s Case Against AT&T (Read More)
  • Ryan Fundraising Committee Pulls in $11.1 Million for Midterms (Read More)
  • ‘Smile and nod’: Latin American leaders brace for tense Trump visit (Read More)
  • PayPal Makes a Move Toward Traditional Banking (Read More)
  • Brazil Turns Rightward, Heralding New Chapter for Latin America (Read More)

Headlines – 4/9/2018

Abbas sets conditions for hearing out Trump’s anticipated peace plan

Residents of Jerusalem neighborhood petition High Court against US Embassy

Israel and Hamas may both be violating international law at Gaza fence, ICC says

Arab-Israeli lawmaker calls for West Bank Palestinians to join Gaza protests

PA won’t be responsible for Gaza if Hamas stays in charge, Abbas warns

Abbas says won’t return to Gaza unless Hamas cedes control

Abbas adviser: Hamas is ‘sending Gazans to their deaths for good headlines’

Hamas official signals that Israeli boosting of Gaza economy could curb protests

Chief ICC lawyer calls for end to violence along Gaza border

Gaza war crimes may be prosecuted: ICC prosecutor

IDF shoots at 3 Palestinians who breach border fence, flee back to Gaza

IDF: Palestinians who breached fence planted explosives

Israeli jets strike Gaza after Palestinians plant bombs on fence

Amid Gaza unrest, Jeremy Corbyn calls for UK to review arms sales to Israel

Swastika Flag at Gaza March Exposes Underlying Antisemitism of “Palestine”

Senior Iranian cleric: Hezbollah will destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange inks cybersecurity deal with Kazakhstan counterpart

Iceland welcomes its first rabbi while considering a ban on circumcision

Israeli chief rabbi: Jews have ‘moral obligation’ to intervene in Syria

Lapid: ‘Use of chemical weapon in Syria is illegal, world must act’

‘Most of them were going to die’: Syria aid workers tell of apocalyptic scenes

Syria chemical attack: Footage shows families ‘gassed to death’; death toll could surpass 100

After Syria gas attack, Saudi-backed rebels give up last foothold in Damascus

Syria war: Trump condemns Syria for ‘chemical attack’ on Douma

Trump, Macron agree to ‘strong, joint response’ to Assad’s chemical attack

Trump threatens to retaliate against Syria for chemical weapons attack

White House official says won’t ‘take anything off the table’ in response to Syria attack

Trump: ‘big price to pay’ for Syria chemical weapons attack

Israeli officials: U.S. must strike in Syria

Syrian media: Major air base struck by missile attack overnight

Syria says suspected U.S. missiles fired at air base; U.S. denies strike

‘We are not striking Syria:’ Pentagon denies reports of US missile attack

Syrian news reports missile attack as likely ‘American aggression’

John McCain Accuses Trump Of ‘Emboldening’ Assad With Talk Of Withdrawal

Trump slams Obama over not crossing ‘red line’ in Syria with ‘Animal Assad’

Trump Blames Putin, Iran For Backing ‘Animal Assad’ In Wake Of Reported Chemical Attack

Iran condemns Syria chemical charges as ‘conspiracy’

Moscow denies claims Syrian regime used chemical weapons in Douma

Russia says Syria gas attack reports ‘fabricated’

U.S.: If true, deadly Syria chemical attack demands international response; Russia to blame

Pope condemns Syria attack as unjustifiable use of ‘instruments of extermination’

After Syria attack, France calls for UN security council meet

Syria attack shows we now live in a world where using chemical weapons is considered OK — and that should terrify us

Former IDF Intel Chief urges grounding of Assad’s helicopter fleet

Rebels reach final deal with Russia to evacuate Douma – negotiators

Russia is aiding Iran Axis prepare for war with Israel

Russian FM taunts UK counterpart with UK players’ 1938 Nazi salute

North Korea ready to discuss denuclearization with US – report

Trump predicts trade concessions by China, despite rising tensions

Farmers who propelled Trump to presidency fear becoming pawns in trade war

26,000 evacuated in west German town for WWII bomb removal

Soros Organisations Seeking to ‘Break Hungary’ Ahead of Sunday Election, Says Government

Why millennials will learn nothing from Facebook’s privacy crisis

Facebook suspends another data analytics firm after CNBC discovers it was using tactics like Cambridge Analytica

Zuckerberg to face angry lawmakers as Facebook firestorm rages

Facebook could face record fines, say former FTC officials

Stock market cooling off from the ‘Trump bump’

Americans Face Highest Pump Prices in Years

Did astronaut really see a UFO on way to the moon? Buzz Aldrin reportedly passed a lie-detector test over claims he saw an alien craft

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Oda, Japan

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Biha, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Nueva Concepcion, Guatemala

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 23,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Aoba volcano on Vanuatu erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Strengthening Tropical Cyclone Keni to renew flood threat across Fiji

Meet the ‘fearless’ drag queens of Beirut

After Nearly 100 Years of Gun Control, London Adding Knife Control

ApostasyWatch Daily News

Mike Oppenheimer – His stripes healed who when?

Dr. Michael Brown – The Shepherd for Wolves

Billy Graham’s regrets, in his own words – What I Would Have Done Differently

NAR Apostle Randy Clark, his Apostolic Network & his ‘Voice of the Apostles’ Conference

Raise the Dead for $50: Todd Bentley Will Teach You How to Raise the Dead

Conjuring Hell at the Cafe with Apostle Dave Kelly

Muslims given say as New York City drafts surveillance guidelines

This Group Slaughtered 225 Christians in March Alone but World Is Silent

California Introduces ‘Dangerous Bill’ That Would Make It Illegal for Christians to Counsel LGBTQ Adults

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 06:24 AM PDT

California Introduces ‘Dangerous Bill’ That Would Make It Illegal for Christians to Counsel LGBTQ AdultsCalifornia LGBTQ activists have introduced a bill that would make it illegal for Christians to provide biblically based counseling for those wanting to get help for unwanted same-sex attractions. N Assemblyman Evan Low’s bill, AB 2943, states that “advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” is illegal under state’s consumer fraud law.  This comes six years after the state deemed it illegal for minors to receive counseling for same-sex attraction,

even if they and their parents wanted help.  AB 2943 would essentially stop adults from getting counseling as well. “California can be an instigator of broadening these laws across the country,” Mat Staver, Founder, and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, told CBN News. Staver said the Liberty Counsel is working to stop this legislation from becoming a law. He believes this bill is harmful. READ MORE

 

This Church Is Warning Christians Not To Do Yoga

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 06:15 AM PDT

This Church Is Warning Christians Not To Do YogaThe debate surrounding yoga has always been a hot topic in the church, but in recent years it has grown increasingly more controversial.  Recently, a church in India took a stand against the practice of yoga, stating it did not align with Christian beliefs. The Syro-Malabar Church, in Kerala India, is an Eastern Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church. Their doctrinal commision recently released a report against the practice of yoga.

The Mananthavady diocese claimed that even though yoga brings positive benefits, it cannot unite a person in a closer relationship with God. The report stated, “There is danger in interpreting the results obtained through yoga practice as spiritual benefits. Hindu leaders also do not agree in presenting yoga as separate from Hindu religion. The contention that yoga practice will help in building religious amity in a multi-religious culture is baseless.”  READ MORE

Robots Replace Soldiers in First Exercise of its Kind…

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 06:06 AM PDT

Robots Replace Soldiers in First Exercise of its Kind…Humans took a backseat during a base exercise on Friday, in which robots cleared obstacles for manned tanks and fighting vehicles.  U.S. and British troops participated in the Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration, during which several remote-controlled vehicles performed a task usually carried out by soldiers.  “We did a robotic breach today, which has never been done before. This is a historic moment,”

said 1st Lt. Cody Rothschild, an officer with the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, currently on rotation in Europe. “This is a great step forward for the Army, and for robotics.” The rotational armor brigade was the main armor element during the exercise. It provided suppressing fire with M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, while remote-controlled U.K. Terrier engineering vehicles cleared a simulated minefield and bridged a tank trench. READ MORE

Israel blamed for missile strike in Syria; 14 reported dead

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:20 AM PDT

Israel blamed for missile strike in Syria; 14 reported deadRussia and the Syrian military blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack Monday on a major air base in central Syria, saying Israeli fighter jets launched the missiles from Lebanon’s air space. A war-monitoring group said the airstrikes killed 14 people, including Iranians active in Syria.  Russia’s Defense Ministry said two Israeli aircraft targeted the T4 air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles. It said Syria shot down five of them while the other three landed in the western part of the base. Syrian state TV

quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Israeli F-15 warplanes fired several missiles at T4. It gave no further details.  Israel’s foreign ministry had no comment when asked about the accusations.B Since 2012, Israel has struck inside Syria more than 100 times, mostly targeting suspected weapons’ convoys destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces. READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: Russia warns of ‘gravest consequences’ if US takes military action over Syrian chemical attack

Posted: 09 Apr 2018 04:12 AM PDT

WAR DRUMS: Russia warns of ‘gravest consequences’ if US takes military action over Syrian chemical attackRussia has threatened the “gravest” of consequences to any foreign power considering military action against Syria over “fabricated” reports of a chemical attack.  Moscow warned against taking action as US President Donald Trump said there would be a “big price to pay” for the atrocity. Russia, whose military backing of President Bashar al-Assad turned the course of the war in his favor, denied that Syrian government forces deployed chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma.

A joint statement by the medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defense service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said 49 people had died in the attack late on Saturday.  Others put the toll even higher. But Syrian state media denied government forces had launched any chemical attack as soon as the reports began circulating. READ MORE

BREAKING: Airstrike on Syria’ reports of fighter jets and missiles over Lebanon

Posted: 08 Apr 2018 06:42 PM PDT

BREAKING: Airstrike on Syria’ reports of fighter jets and missiles over LebanonDEVELOPING: Reports of explosions have been heard at Syria’s Tiyas Military Airbase amid reports of jets flying across Lebanon into Syria as well as unknown projectiles, it has been reported.  Lebanon residents have reported hearing unidentified jets towards Syria. Speculation is rising of a foreign attack against the Syrian regime just a day after a chemical attack. It happened roughly at 3.30 am local time on

Monday. Residents reported hearing loud booms and the sound of jets. There are reports that Syrian air defense has intercepted missiles. There are also reports that US warships from the Mediterranean are reportedly launching Tomahawk missiles into Syria. Syrian state television has reportedly confirmed. READ MORE

Iran claims Syria gas attack reports ‘excuse’ for military action

Posted: 08 Apr 2018 04:18 PM PDT

Iran claims Syria gas attack reports ‘excuse’ for military actionIran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday reports of a gas attack in Syria were not based on facts and were an “an excuse” by the United States and Western countries to take military action against Damascus, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.  “Such claims and allegations by the Americans and some

Western countries point to a new plot against the Syrian government and people, and are an excuse to take military action against them,” IRNA reported foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying. The news agency also quoted Qasemi saying that the reports of the gas attack “do not match facts.”  READ MORE

Mattis authorizes up to 4,000 National Guard troops for US border with Mexico…

Posted: 08 Apr 2018 04:05 PM PDT

Mattis authorizes up to 4,000 National Guard troops for US border with Mexico…Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has signed an order to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to to the U.S.-Mexico border but barred them from interacting with migrants detained by the Border Patrol in most circumstances.  The order, issued in response to President Trump’s call for using troops to stem illegal immigration, specifies that National Guard troops will assist the Department of Homeland

Security along the border but not perform law enforcement missions and will be armed only when necessary for self-defense. Given the restrictions, it’s unclear if the Guard units will play a significant role in Trump administration efforts to lock down the border. The Border Patrol has more than 19,000 sworn agents, although not all are assigned in the Southwest, and illegal immigration is at its lowest level in decades. READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: Russia calls Assad gas attack “Fake News”

Posted: 08 Apr 2018 03:51 PM PDT

WAR DRUMS: Russia calls Assad gas attack “Fake News”Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday reports of a gas attack in Syria were bogus and any military action taken based on such “invented and fabricated excuses” could lead to severe consequences. “The spread of bogus stories about the use of chlorine and other poisonous substances by (Syrian) government forces continues. Yet another such fabricated piece of information about an alleged chemical attack in

Douma appeared yesterday,” the ministry said in a statement. “We have warned several times recently against such dangerous provocations. The aim of such deceitful speculation, lacking any kind of grounding, is to shield terrorists … and to attempt to justify possible external uses of force.” READ MORE


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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The “Admirable Method” of God’s Providence (Calvin)

The Reformed Reader

Tracts and Treatises of John Calvin (8 vols.) Around 1560 John Calvin wrote “A Brief Confession of Faith” which was probably meant to be a shorter version of his larger confession for French Reformed churches.  Like other Protestant confessions of faith, it gives a good summary of the main teachings of Scripture – summaries which date back to the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds.  Below I’ve posted a paragraph on providence from “A Brief Confession of Faith.”  God’s sovereign providence is a comforting reality for the Christian.  As we face trials and hardships in life, we pray for submission to the good providence of our good God:

I confess that God once created the world to be its perpetual Governor, but in such manner that nothing can be done or happen without his counsel and providence. And though Satan and the reprobate plot the confusion of all things, and even believers themselves pervert right order by their sins, yet…

View original post 85 more words

The Brainwashing of Our Children: Satan in Our Public Schools and Universities

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

When the kids were young, I stayed home and was a licensed day care provider.  We needed the money and I felt that this would be good for our kids and also for the kids who would come into our home. I made sure that any prospective parents knew that their children would hear the name of Jesus in our home.  I told them that we prayed and I read Bible stories to the kids.  Most of the parents had no problem with this – some did, so it worked out for everyone.

When our children entered elementary school, I had talks with them about things they might learn in school – things that didn’t match what we read in our Bible. I told them that the Bible was Absolute truth, so if they heard something which contradicted it, then they should always believe the Bible.

I knew that as…

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A warning about Hillsong’s Facebook marketing ‘con job’.

Brian Houston often says that it’s by the grace of God he is where he is today. This is complete fraudulent on so many levels. With that in mind and given its wordwide impact, it is worth examining the marketing arm of Hillsong.

While biblical Christianity trusts that Jesus will grow His church through the preaching of His gospel, Hillsong have relied heavily on marketing research and innovations to grow their empire. In this example, we highlight their latest marketing ploy.

If you are on Facebook, have you seen this ad put out by Hillsong?

2018-04-08_FaceBook-HillsongAdd

If you click on the add, you are taken to a Hillsong web page heavily promoting their Hillsong brand and overpriced product. The website is all about their merchandise marketing the Hillsong brand, encouraging their followers to part with their money to pay not only for their TV channel, but also flooding the Christian…

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In Response To Growing Number Of Fistfights, London Mayor Bans Hands

LONDON—In response to a recent outbreak in fistfights, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced Monday a sweeping ban of hands in the city, effective immediately. “No excuses: there is never a reason to have hands in a modern, civil society. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law,” Khan said […]

The post In Response To Growing Number Of Fistfights, London Mayor Bans Handsappeared first on The Babylon Bee.

Muslim Mayor of London Declares New ‘Knife Control’ Policies as Fatal Stabbings Soar

The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan declared a new knife control policy as stabbings in London soar to unprecedented levels.

This of course completely crushes the ‘guns cause violence’ narrative the left pushes since the UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

Islamic terrorist attacks are on the rise in London because of dangerous immigration laws, yet people like Sadiq Khan and the Met Police Chief are blaming social media for the rise in violence.

In fact, London’s murder rate is higher than New York City’s for the first time ever.

Sadiq Khan’s answer is to turn London into a police state (more than it already is).

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Via London.Gov:

Since 2016, Sadiq Khan has been taking action to tackle the scourge of violent crime in London, together with the Met Police. With the tragic rise in knife killings on our streets this year, he’s introduced tough, immediate measures to address the violence.

The Mayor is determined to ensure criminals are caught and punished – but he’s also investing millions in tackling the complex root causes of violent crime to help prevent future deaths.

Here’s what the Mayor is doing:

Boosting police power

  • A new violent crime taskforce of 120 officers has been created using additional funding from City Hall announced by the Mayor in February. The taskforce will focus solely on violent crime, weapon-enabled crime and serious criminality.
  • The Met Police has introduced targeted patrols with extra stop and search powers for areas worst-affected by knife crime
  • The Mayor is protecting the number of frontline police officers on London’s streets byinvesting £110m in the Met Police.
  • Police made more than 900 arrests during Operation Winter Nights in November and December, taking more than 350 weapons off London’s streets

Preventing future violence

  • In February Mayor created the £45m Young Londoners Fund to help steer young people away from violent crime
  • Knife wands are now available for every school in London to help keep young people safe, with 150 schools so far taking up the offer
  • The widely shared London Needs You Alive campaign brings together role models and youth influencers to send a positive message to young people – that they shouldn’t put their lives at risk by carrying a knife
  • The Mayor’s granted £7 million to projects to combat youth violence across London and £250,000 to community groups and grassroots initiatives
  • The Mayor is working to bring in more Safer Schools Officers to help to drive down knife crime in schools

The Muslim Mayor of London proudly tweeted his new knife control law.

Sadiq Khan tweeted: “No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”

Mayor of London

@MayorofLondon

No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law. http://www.london.gov.uk/tackling-violent-crime 

The Met Police has stepped up stop and search in worst-affected areas

Here’s what the Mayor is doing to tackle violent crime

City Hall and the Met Police are taking action to tackle the scourge of violent crime in London.

london.gov.uk

So now Londoners cannot carry guns or knives.

Of course the criminals and Muslim gangs will continue to carry weapons so the law abiding citizens of London are sitting ducks with no way to defend themselves.

This is of course by design.

Americans must defend their 2A rights now more than ever so we don’t become Londonistan.

The post Muslim Mayor of London Declares New ‘Knife Control’ Policies as Fatal Stabbings Soar appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

Bibles Pulled from Online Stores as China Increases Control of Religion

Sarah Cook, senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House, said the sales ban “is an important example of how internet censorship intersects with restrictions on religious freedom. … Sensitive religious topics and groups are among the most censored in China,” she said. “In our research we found the Chinese authorities increasingly using more high-tech methods to control religion and punish believers — including surveillance and arrest of believers for sharing information online.”

The Bible appears to have been removed from online marketplaces in China, as Beijing clamps down on how its citizens practice religion.

China has always controlled sales of the Bible, only allowing it to be distributed and printed by state-sanctioned churches, but in recent years it had been available to buy online.

That loophole now appears to be firmly closed. Searches for “Holy Bible” did not return results on JD.com, and results on Amazon.cn did not include the main text, but did include study guides and the Koran.

On Taobao, China’s biggest online marketplace, a search returned results for the “baby food bible” and the “autoimmune disease healing bible,” but not the Christian scripture, though some related products such as an illustrated set of children’s Bible stories were still available.

JD.com, Amazon.cn and Taobao did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Thursday was a public holiday in China.

Two online merchants told CNN customers may still obtain copies of the holy book from them through private messages, but public listing of the Bible is now impossible on Taobao.

Historical hostility

Sarah Cook, senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House, said the sales ban “is an important example of how internet censorship intersects with restrictions on religious freedom.”

“Sensitive religious topics and groups are among the most censored in China,” she said. “In our research we found the Chinese authorities increasingly using more high-tech methods to control religion and punish believers — including surveillance and arrest of believers for sharing information online.”

Religious practice in China is tightly controlled by the government, with the five recognized faiths — Chinese Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism and Taoism — supervised by official organizations such as the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church or the Buddhist Association of China.

According to a recent five-year plan on Christianity in China, published by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), maintaining the “principle of independence and self-management” is important due to the “humiliating history of the Chinese people” and the use of Christianity by the powers of “colonialism and imperialism.”

Chinese Catholic bishops are not appointed by the Pope, which has been a key sticking point between Beijing and the Vatican since relations broke down in 1951.

Progress did appear to have been made in recent weeks, with some Chinese officials saying a deal with the Holy See could take place over Easter, but this did not pan out.

William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said the Vatican “should probably take this issue into consideration in its discussions with their Chinese counterparts — since the banning of the sale of Bibles is obviously a worrying move demonstrating the worsening state for freedom of religion in China.”

Read More

The post Bibles Pulled from Online Stores as China Increases Control of Religionappeared first on The Aquila Report.

Does God Like Me?

I am not just barely tolerated by God, but accepted in the beloved. He loves ME, and, yes, if I may say so, he likes me. And so let’s all put aside our doubts and our fears and run this race together, shall we? Let’s quit trying to lift ourselves up by tearing one another down. Let’s quit trying to one-up each other, bragging and boasting about our accomplishments. Let’s quit worrying about whether anyone else likes us or not. If God is for us, who can possibly be against us.

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (Jam 3:8-9)

How many of us have been attacked by the tongue? How many live at home with a reviler and are subjected to the lash of ugly words?

You’re fat.

You’re stupid.

No one even likes you.

You are worthless.

If it wasn’t for me, no one would even tolerate you.

There are millions who were raised by cruel and harsh men and women who have never known a kind word; who have never known what it is to be accepted or loved.

And there are also millions who scoff and say, “It’s only words. I just get angry sometimes…” To you, I have just one thing to say: Please read carefully Matthew 5:22 and meditate on how you use words. You are in danger of hell. If you have ever called one of God’s children ugly, fat, stupid, worthless, unlovable – who shall deliver you from the wrath to come? It is a dangerous thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Your words do not come from God. They are lit on fire from hell.

These are not the words that we have learned from Christ Jesus. He taught us to use words of truth and grace, seasoned with salt, edifying to the hearer.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Eph 4:29)

There are so many ways to tear people down with words. One of the most insidious is to never revile out loud, but just simply let your victim know that they really aren’t very likeable. Perhaps they are weird. Perhaps they do things differently. Perhaps they think a little…not like you. This is the classic passive-aggressive bully. God hates it.

This one is close to my heart, because I am…let’s face it…weird. I cannot small talk for anything. I have no idea what is going on in any sporting event. I say weird things at weird times. I don’t have a clue what “guys do”.  At my bachelor party, two of my friends picked me up from work and said, “This is YOUR NIGHT. You can do whatever you want!” I sat on their couch and stared at them for two hours until they let me go home.

I’m weird. There is no situation where I am not awkward, no conversation that I can’t stop by saying something very weird.

And most of my life, I was absolutely convinced that most people would be far happier if I just went home. So I usually did.

It occurred to me the other day that I have a hard time believing that anyone likes me. And then it occurred to me that I carry this belief to God himself. Does God actually like me?

It is an interesting question. I think that question is particularly difficult for those who have been attacked with the tongue. How can anyone like me? Does God like me? Does it matter?

It isn’t the same as “Does God love me”. We know that God does love us. He loves us with perfect, infinite, unchanging love in Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. We also know that nothing separates us from his love.

But does he like me?

I’ve heard of parents who say to their kids, “I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’ve heard husbands say that about their wives. “I love her, but I sure don’t like her at times.”

And our greatest fear is that God just barely tolerates us. He loves us in Christ, but really just wishes we would go away. Can you think of anything more shameful than hearing God say, “I love you, but I sure don’t like you much.”

Do you see what I am getting at?

Read More

The post Does God Like Me? appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

False teachers are not always argumentative or divisive; often they are some of the nicest people we know. They usually creep in not with scowls on their faces but with big smiles. They don’t normally creep into churches and teach obvious heresies and falsehoods; they usually subtly question the truth and teach partial truths, and they are not always identified by what they actually teach but by what they leave out of their teaching. 

Throughout history, our enemy has raised up many false prophets and false teachers, but perhaps never before in history has the church itself raised up so many of its own false teachers, parading them and welcoming them into their homes and churches. False teachers abound on many of the so-called Christian television networks, and books by false teachers fill the shelves of many so-called Christian bookstores. And while many Christians are rightly concerned about the growth of religions such as Islam, the greatest threat to orthodox Christianity is not other religions but false teachers who creep into the church unnoticed.

False teachers creep into the church not because they look like false teachers but because they look like angels. They disguise themselves just as their master Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. When false teachers attempt to creep into the church, they typically don’t look like wolves because they wear sheep costumes and use some of the same language that the sheep use. They regularly quote Scripture, and they are often able to quote more Scripture than the average Christian.

False teachers are not always argumentative or divisive; often they are some of the nicest people we know. They usually creep in not with scowls on their faces but with big smiles. They don’t normally creep into churches and teach obvious heresies and falsehoods; they usually subtly question the truth and teach partial truths, and they are not always identified by what they actually teach but by what they leave out of their teaching. They often speak of Jesus, salvation, the gospel, and faith, but they twist the words and concepts of Scripture to fit their own versions of the truth, which is no truth at all.

They typically don’t attempt to creep into churches where the Word of God is preached boldly and passionately, in season and out of season, and where the people are eager for the sound preaching of Scripture and are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, they usually target those churches where people are indifferent to doctrine and apathetic about the preaching of the Word of God.

The surest way, then, to prevent and stop the spread of false teaching is for Christian leaders and laypeople, pastors and parishioners, teachers and learners, to be committed to the sound preaching of God’s Word and to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Only then will false teachers be recognized for who they are and the sheep of Christ be protected from error, all to the end of living coram Deo, before the face of God, for God’s glory according to God’s unchanging truth.

Ligonier © 2018. Used with permission.

The post Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Monday: A Psalm That Is Repeated

For the first time in our study we have come to a psalm that is a very close repetition of one we have already examined. The repeated psalm is Psalm 14, appearing again as Psalm 53, except for a few minor changes and the last three lines of verse 5. This suggests two questions: Why is it repeated? and What can I say about the psalm the second time?

Read more…

04/09/18 Confidence

READING: Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’”

Psalm 31:14

Read today’s news, and you’ll quickly see that life is filled with trouble. Natural disasters. Destructive fires. Unexpected deaths. Political intrigue. Chemical attacks. Ongoing wars. Child abuse. Facebook controversies. Bus crashes. Stock market issues. Terrorist attacks. Frankly, the world is so frightening that it almost feels best not to think about these things at all.

I am reminded today, though, that no matter what we face in life, we can have confidence in the Lord. The psalmist knew that truth and leaned on it regardless of what enemies he faced. Let his words speak for themselves:

  • “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Psa. 7:10)
  • “Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.” (Psa. 27:3)
  • “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ The course of my life is in your power; rescue me from the power of my enemies and from my persecutors.” (Psa. 31:14-15)
  • “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” (Psa. 34:17-18)
  • “I will praise you forever for what you have done. In the presence of your faithful people, I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.” (Psa. 52:9)

What the psalmist understood is that God is bigger than anything we’re up against. I need to remember that truth as well, not letting my heart get consumed by circumstances that are tiny compared to the bigness of the God of the Bible.

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Hold on to the verses listed above, and turn to them as you need them today.
  • If you’re already losing the battle to your circumstances, turn back to God now.

PRAYER: “God, thank You for being my shield. I trust You today.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalms 56, 120, 140-142

Source: 04/09/18 Confidence

April 9 The Work of a Priest

He then presented the other ram, the ram for the ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. Lev 8:22-23

This offering was the offering of ordination for the priest. What a strange ceremony that is! What does it signify? Blood is always a reminder to us that we have no value apart from the death of Christ on our behalf. That is all that God ever accepts as of any value whatsoever out of our time here on earth. And here the priest is to have a blood-stained ear, a blood-stained thumb, and a blood-stained toe.

He is to hear God’s word as someone who has already been redeemed, who listens to the Word of God with the recognition that he is not merely hearing some good ideas but is listening to that which can release him and relieve him of pressures and problems — all because he has already been bought by that blood. We are to hear the Word of God not as mere philosophy but as God’s instruction deep within our hearts.

And then we are to serve man. That is what is always symbolized by the hand, the thumb, probably the most useful member of the human body. We are to serve as blood-stained people, recognizing that we have no righteousness in ourselves, that we are just like everybody else, no better than anyone else. We offer our help not not as people who have achieved perfection, but as ones who, like those we help, are very much in need of the constant cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul says, Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1). Remind yourself that you may be the next one to fall. And when you fall you don’t want someone coming to you pointing the finger and judging you severely. Rather, you want someone to come to you with the realization: Brother, maybe I’ve never done what you’ve done, but I know I certainly could have. I just want you to know that I understand how you feel right now, and I want to see you cleansed as only God is able to cleanse.

Finally there is the blood-stained foot, which represents walking through life with a reminder that the cleansing of God’s grace is needed every day, that we never are perfect in this life, that though God has made provision for a life of service and of walking in the Spirit, nevertheless we all have failed to some extent every day in laying hold of it. God has understood that and has made provision for it.

Father, thank you for this look at Aaron and his sons. Open my spiritual eyes so that I can see beyond Aaron and his sons to Jesus Christ and his family, the great body of Christ of which I am a part.

Life Application

Our high and holy calling as servant-priests requires constant cleansing by the blood Jesus shed for us. Are our ears tuned to His holy wisdom, our hands available at His direction, our feet walking to His drumbeat?

For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:
The Work of a Priest

April 9, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Resting on a Confident Faith in the Lord

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, (4:5b–6a)

There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence that the Lord is near.Engus (near) can mean near in space or near in time. Some take engus in a chronological sense, either as a reference to Christ’s return (3:20–21; James 5:8), or to believers’ death, which ushers them into the Lord’s presence (1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). While those are comforting truths, it seems that Paul’s emphasis here is on the Lord’s nearness in the sense of His presence. He is near both to hear the cry of the believer’s heart, and to help and strengthen them. In Psalm 73:28 the psalmist declared, “The nearness of God is my good” (cf. Pss. 34:18; 75:1; 119:151; 145:18). Because of God’s nearness, believers should not be fearful, anxious, or wavering. They should not collapse, but be strong and stable (Josh. 1:6–9; Pss. 27:14; 125:1).

Unfortunately, when they face trials, believers often seem to forget what they know about God. They lose their confident trust in Him, lose their self-control and spiritual stability, and are defeated. Even strong believers are not immune to an occasional lapse, as an incident from the life of David reveals. Seeking refuge from Saul’s relentless pursuit, David sought asylum in the Philistine city of Gath. Some of the Philistines recognized him and said to Achish, the king of Gath, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (1 Sam. 21:11). Realizing that his true identity had become known, “David … greatly feared Achish king of Gath” (v. 12). Instead of trusting God to deliver him, David panicked and “disguised his sanity before [the Philistines], and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (v. 13). His act produced the desired results: “Then Achish said to his servants, ‘Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?’ ” (vv. 14–15). As a result, “David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam” (1 Sam. 22:1). There, with the crisis past, David had time to reflect on how he should have handled the situation in Gath. In Psalm 57, written at that time, he reaffirmed the truths about God that he had temporarily forgotten:

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. (Ps. 57:1–3)

Remembering the character of God restored David’s spiritual stability and his joy, enabling him to declare, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” (Ps. 57:7).

Like David, the prophet Habakkuk faced a crisis. But unlike David, he maintained his spiritual stability. In Habakkuk 1:2–4 the prophet cried out to God about His apparent indifference to Judah’s apostasy:

How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.

To Habakkuk’s dismay, God answered that things were going to get even worse:

Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards and keener than wolves in the evening. Their horsemen come galloping, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They collect captives like sand. They mock at kings and rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it. Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god. (Hab. 1:5–11)

Instead of answering Habakkuk’s original question, God’s reply raised a second even more vexing question: How could He use a godless, pagan nation to chasten His people?

Faced with Judah’s apostasy, the impending Chaldean invasion, and his own unanswered questions, Habakkuk reminded himself of what he knew to be true about God: “Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct. Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:12–13). Habakkuk reminded himself of God’s eternity, faithfulness, justice, sovereignty, and holiness.

Despite the trials, doubts, and questions he faced, Habakkuk’s faith and trust in God stood firm. He affirmed the importance of living a life of faith in Habakkuk 2:4: “The righteous will live by his faith.” Both initially in justification, and continually in sanctification, the Christian life is a life of faith in God. As he reminded himself of the greatness of his God, Habakkuk’s faith grew stronger. By the end of his prophecy he was able to sing triumphantly of God’s glorious nature and power,

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Hab. 3:17–19)

Habakkuk’s faith in God made him a spiritually stable man—so much so that even if the normal, dependable things in life suddenly collapsed, he would still rejoice in God.

The Lord who is near is the almighty, true, and living God revealed in Scripture. Those who delight themselves in His holy power, love, and wisdom and cultivate a deep knowledge of Him by studying and meditating on His Word will live by the foundation of that truth and be spiritually stable. Because of the presence of God, believers are to be anxious for nothing. Nothing is outside of His sovereign control or too difficult for Him to handle. A low view of God leads to a myriad of problems in the church:

The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking. (Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 6)

Weak, struggling, unstable Christians need to build their strength on the foundation of what the Bible says about God. The result of the church’s failure to equip believers with the knowledge of God’s character and works is a lack of understanding of His nature and purposes, and a subsequent lack of confidence in Him. The shifting sands of shallow or faulty theology provide no stable footing for the believer.

Anxious, fretful, worried, harried believers are inherently unstable and vulnerable to trials and temptations. Anxiety is both a violation of Scripture and totally unnecessary. In a magnificent passage in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out the sinful folly of anxiety:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:25–34)

Harmony in the fellowship, joy in the Lord, contentment in circumstances, and confident trust in God are the first steps on the path to spiritual stability.[1]


Reacting to Problems with Thankful Prayer

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:6b–7)

Spiritually stable people react to trials with thankful prayer. Such prayer is the antidote to worry and the cure for anxiety. The theology of prayer is not in view here, but rather its priority and the attitude the believer brings to it. The three synonyms used here, prayer, supplication, and requests, all refer to specific, direct offerings of petition to God. The assumption of the text is that believers will cry out to God when they have a need or a problem, not with doubting, questioning, or even blaming God, but with thanksgiving (cf. Col. 4:2). Instead of having a spirit of rebellion against what God allows, believers are to trustingly cast “all [their] anxiety on Him, because He cares for [them]” (1 Peter 5:7).

God’s promises support the wisdom of gratitude. He has promised that no trial believers face will be too difficult for them to handle (1 Cor. 10:13). He has also promised to use everything that happens in believers’ lives for their ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Even suffering leads to their being perfected, confirmed, strengthened, and established (1 Peter 5:10). Believers should also be thankful for God’s power (Ps. 62:11; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 4:11), for His promises (Deut. 1:11; 2 Cor. 1:20), for the hope of relief from suffering (2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Peter 5:10), for the hope of glory (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27), for His mercy (Rom. 15:9), and for His perfecting work in them (Phil. 1:6).

People become worried, anxious, and fearful because they do not trust in God’s wisdom, power, or goodness. They fear that God is not wise enough, strong enough, or good enough to prevent disaster. It may be that this sinful doubt is because their knowledge of Him is faulty, or that sin in their lives has crippled their faith. Thankful prayer brings release from fear and worry, because it affirms God’s sovereign control over every circumstance, and that His purpose is the believer’s good (Rom. 8:28).

Once the sinner has made “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), that is, in salvation having ceased to be God’s enemy and become His child, he can enjoy the peace of God, the inward tranquility of soul granted by God. It is a confident trust in His flawless wisdom and infinite power that provides calm amid the storms of life. Isaiah wrote of this supernatural peace: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Paul prayed for the Romans that “the God of hope [would] fill [them] with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13). In his high priestly blessing on Israel Aaron said, “The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:26). In Psalm 29:11 David wrote, “The Lord will bless His people with peace.” Shortly before His death Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). God’s peace is not for everyone, however; “ ‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22), neither with God, nor from God.

Paul further defines this supernatural peace as that which surpasses all comprehension. It transcends human intellectual powers, human analysis, human insights, and human understanding. It is superior to human scheming, human devices, and human solutions, since its source is the God whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are unfathomable (Rom. 11:33). It is experienced in a transcendent calm that lifts the believer above the most debilitating trial. Since it is a supernatural work, it resists any human comprehension. The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate every unpleasant circumstance; it is to trust in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in every difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace.

When realized in believers’ lives, God’s peace will guard them from anxiety, doubt, and worry. Phroureō (will guard) is a military term used of soldiers on guard duty. The picture would have been familiar to the Philippians, since the Romans stationed troops in Philippi to protect their interests in that part of the world. Just as soldiers guard and protect a city, so God’s peace guards and protects believers who confidently trust in Him. Paul’s use of the phrase hearts and minds was not intended to imply a distinction between the two; he was merely making a comprehensive reference to the believer’s inner person. Once again, Paul reminds his readers that true peace is not available through any human source, but only in Christ Jesus.[2]


The Meaning of Prayer

Philippians 4:6–7

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.

For most people few doctrines associated with Christianity are more generally misunderstood than that of true prayer. It is totally misunderstood by nonbelievers, and it is misunderstood by many who profess the name of Jesus. The problem may be traced to the fact that so few persons know God well enough to be closely associated with him in prayer, and since none of us is as closely associated with him as we ought to be, prayer is at least partially confusing to us all. Does prayer change things? Or does prayer change people? Does God change his mind as the result of believing prayer? Or does God move us to pray? What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Who can pray? How do you pray? And why should a person pray anyway? In any gathering of God’s people many of these questions will receive different and sometimes even contradictory answers.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians there are two verses that are an exceptionally fine statement of the Christian doctrine of prayer. Paul says, “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. 4:6–7).

For Christians Only

What is prayer? Prayer is talking with God, and the place to begin in any true definition of prayer is with the fact that prayer is for believers only. Paul did not write his words about prayer to the pagan world at Philippi or to the world at large. He wrote them “to all the saints in Christ Jesus” at Philippi. This means that prayer is exclusively for Christians. It is the means by which an empty soul that has been touched by Jesus Christ can be thrust beneath the life-giving fountain of God’s grace, can bask in God’s goodness, and can be supernaturally refreshed for life’s tasks. Prayer is the Christian’s antidote for anxiety.

I know something called prayer is offered a billion times daily by millions of people who are not Christians, but this is not prayer in any real sense. Scores of non-Christian people in the East spend the better part of a day spinning prayer wheels. Savages chant prayers in many jungle clearings. New Agers finger prayer beads. Many poor souls cry out a prayer in the midst of some calamity. Many non-Christians give themselves to a life of meditation. But this is not true prayer, if the person involved is not a Christian. Prayer is talking with God, and the only prayer that God hears and answers is one that is made through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone provides access to his presence.

This truth was taught by Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus did not say that he was one of several ways to come to God, that he was a prophet who pointed out the ways to God; he said that he was the way to come to God, and he added, lest anyone misunderstand him, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This means that no prayer offered to God apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has ever reached God his heavenly Father.

There are more passages in the Bible that tell when God will not answer prayer than there are passages in which he promises to do it, and God definitely says he will not answer the prayer of anyone who does not come through faith in his Son.

Have you ever tried to pray and found God distant and unreal? Have you gone away without any real hope that God has heard you? It may be that you have never done the first thing God requires. Your sin divides you like a wall from God’s presence. It will only be removed by Jesus Christ. You need to come to him. You need to say, “Lord Jesus Christ, I recognize that I am separated from you by my sin; but I believe you died for me to remove that sin forever. Remove it now, and accept me as your child. Amen.” If you do that, God will remove your sin, and he will accept you as his child forever.

Barriers to Prayer

Now we must also add that although it is true that God does not hear the prayer of non-Christians, it is also true that he does not hear the prayers offered by many Christians. In fact, the Bible says that God will never hear a Christian’s prayer so long as the Christian is clinging to some sin in his heart. David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps. 66:18). Isaiah wrote, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1–2).

Do these verses describe your prayer life? If so, you must confess your sin openly and frankly, knowing that God “is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can only pray if our lives are open books before him.

In normal life we must know people well before our conversation with them flows freely. There are many people I know casually to whom I would speak about the weather, their work, their families, but to whom I would never speak about more personal things. There are others I know better; to these I would speak about some problems in my own life or about the concerns of others. Certain things I share only with my wife. How easily I can speak depends on how well I know the person. It is the same in our relationship to God. If we do not know God well, if our sin keeps us from him, if we do not recognize his characteristics and how he operates with people, then he is like a stranger to us and the prayer flows slowly, even though we have come to faith in Jesus. Instead, we must confess our sin and learn to spend time alone with our heavenly Father. When we do that our prayer will become the kind of communion that we have in conversation with a close friend.

Prayer for Others

Everything that I have noted up to this point has ourselves as the center; but if you know what prayer is, you know also that prayer necessarily involves other people. No matter how intimate the conversation may be between a husband and wife, it does not always center on their own affairs exclusively. They share news about their acquaintances and their concerns for them. So it is in prayer. The Bible calls such prayer “intercession.” First Timothy 2:1 says, “I urge you, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”

As we meet with God in prayer—at the beginning of a day, at its end, or in any moment throughout it—these concerns should also be a part of our conversation with him. We should have great boldness as we present the concerns of others.

That great Bible teacher, Harry Ironside, tells a story about intercessory prayer in one of his books. He had been preaching in the Midwest and had held meetings in a church that contained a most unusual group of believers. They had Sunday services and midweek meetings, but they did not come together for prayer. He spoke to them about this lack. They said, “We don’t need to meet for prayer. We have no spiritual needs, for the Bible says that we have all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And we have no need of material things, for we are well provided for. So we don’t pray.” Ironside said, “Well, that is unfortunate. At the very least, you should pray for me that God will give me freedom of speech as I go about preaching the gospel.”

They could not seem to understand his point, and Ironside left. Some time later he collapsed while in the pulpit. It was found that he had typhoid fever with a temperature of 106 degrees. In time he recovered, and during the next year he was back with this strange group of Christians. They said to him, “When we heard that you were sick with typhoid fever we began to pray for you. We prayed for you twice a week, but after we heard that you had recovered we stopped.” Ironside said, “Well, that is unfortunate also. As long as I was in the hospital room I was all right. All I had was typhoid fever. But now that I am out preaching the gospel, I am faced with the spiritual temptations that come to a Christian minister. Now I need your prayers more than ever.”

I know someone is going to say, “Do you mean to teach that God will only take care of another Christian if we pray?” No, I do not think intercession means that. But it does mean that God allows us to share in the blessings he gives to others and delights in using our prayers as a means through which he operates.

Let me illustrate this by another story. More than a generation ago a man named Hotchkiss went to Nigeria where he spent over forty years as a missionary. One day he was late for a service he was to have in a village located across a large plain. There was a rule in Nigeria in those days that no one ever crossed a large open space for fear of stampedes by the herds of wild game that roamed at large in the country. A safe path always passed within a short run of the trees. Hotchkiss was late, and he knew the quickest way to the village was to go directly across the plain. So he started across it. Halfway across the worst happened. He heard the thunder of rhinoceros hoofs, and as he looked up he saw a herd of the monstrous animals headed toward him. There was nowhere to go, so Hotchkiss knelt down in the middle of the plain, clasped his Bible to his chest, and prayed, “Lord, here I come.” An eternity passed as the roar grew louder and then faded away into the distance. At last all was quiet and Hotchkiss arose. He was standing in the midst of the plain marked with the hoofprints of a hundred or more rhinoceros. But he was alive, and he went on to his meeting in the village.

Years later, a couple from Ohio visited this man in Nigeria. In the course of their conversation the husband said to Hotchkiss, “I had a most unusual experience once that concerned you. One night I woke up suddenly with an irresistible urge to pray for you. And I did, committing you to God’s safekeeping.” Hotchkiss asked if he remembered when it was. The man had written it down that night in his Bible, and when they compared the times, it was on the same day and at the same hour that Hotchkiss had been spared on the Nigerian plain.

Someone may argue that God would have saved Hotchkiss anyway, even if the man had not prayed. Probably. But the point is that in God’s marvelous working he moved a man halfway around the world to pray for Hotchkiss in that hour. Thus, years later the man was able to share in the blessing of his friend’s supernatural deliverance. In the same way we have the privilege as God’s children of committing others into his hands for his blessing—our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and family. As we do, we are permitted to share in his blessing on them. Our Christian life holds few joys greater than this one.

Supplications

There is one other point about prayer that comes directly from this passage. Prayer is not only talking with God, nor is it only intercession for others. Prayer is also an opportunity to present our requests to him. Paul calls them petitions, and he says, “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.” God invites us to place our earnest requests before him.

This is God’s cure for anxiety. Christians are troubled about many things. You may be troubled about your work, your family, the future, money, sex, or happiness. God invites you to place your request about these things before him. The promise of the verse is that the peace of God will keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Have you ever noticed that the verse does not say that we shall necessarily receive the things we ask for? You would expect the verse to say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and God will fulfill your requests.” But it does not say that. It says, “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.” Our prayers are often in error, and we pray for things that are not good for us. God does not promise to give us these things. All things work together for good to them that love God. However, God does promise to give a supernatural peace to those who share their real needs with him.

We must not think that Paul was recommending something for others that he had not found true for himself. Paul too had had this experience. Do you remember the prayer that Paul wrote in Romans 15? Paul was in Corinth and was about to go on to Jerusalem with the collection from the gentile churches. After that he had planned to travel to Rome as an ambassador of the Christian gospel. He asked prayer for three things: 1) “that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea”; 2) “that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints”; and 3) “that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed” (Rom. 15:31–32).

How were Paul’s requests answered? We do not know every aspect of God’s answers, but we know that Paul’s first request was not fulfilled literally. Paul fell into the hands of unbelievers and spent two years in prison in Caesarea as a result, although his life was spared. We have no information about his second request—that his collection might be received willingly by the saints in Judea—but there is no reason to think Paul received a warm welcome from anyone. Finally, we know that Paul’s third request—for a joyous journey to Rome—was fulfilled, if it was fulfilled, only after long delays and through much hardship. When Paul arrived in Rome at last, he arrived as a prisoner in chains.

God certainly did not answer Paul’s requests as Paul intended. But God did answer, and he answered exactly as Paul indicates in his words about prayer to the Philippians. He answered by giving Paul peace. Paul knew God’s peace even in the most difficult of earthly circumstances, and he writes out of these circumstances to tell us also to make requests of God, our heavenly Father.[3]


6 Anxiety can be good or bad. Paul has anxiety for the progress of the gospel (2:28) and the condition of the individual churches he has founded, and he sometimes loses sleep over them (2 Co 11:28), but he does not seem to regard this concern to be a noxious anxiety. It comes with the task of being an apostle. The anxiety Paul warns against is the kind that unhinges, paralyzes, and incapacitates one—“anxious, harassing care” (Lightfoot, 160). Paul is not calling for them to be indifferent toward life. The root idea of the verb “to be anxious” (merimnaō, GK 3534) is “to be pulled apart.” The Philippians are not to allow their lives to become so wrapped up with material well-being that they fall apart when their standard of living is threatened or their wealth is taken from them. They also need not be anxious about what is going to happen to Paul. Only those who are confident in the coming of the kingdom of God and in their vindication by God will not be overwhelmed by anxiety when trouble comes.

They are to “present [their] requests to God,” not because God is unaware of their needs and needs to be informed, but because it is a way to acknowledge their total dependence on God. When requests are accompanied with thanksgiving, they will be prepared “to surrender themselves to his will whatever the circumstances” (Peter T. O’Brien, “Divine Provision for Our Needs: Assurances from Philippians 4,” RTR 50 [1991]: 24). Michael, 197, writes, “The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything.” If the Philippians are truly thankful for what God has done for them in Christ, they will not be anxious about the assaults of opponents who threaten them. A thankful spirit crowds out selfish pride, checks fear, defuses anger, and directs one’s thoughts outwardly toward others.

7 The “and” (kai) that begins this verse introduces the result of thankful prayer (Thielman, 219). The “peace of God” is the peace that God possesses and bestows on others (Ro 5:1) and that leads to contentment (Php 4:11). It is akin to God’s salvation secured through Christ. It will become a garrison standing guard over their hearts and minds, where anxiety and fear lurk. The reference to peace, concluding both sets of exhortations (4:7, 9), may also allude to their dissension. Every time Paul refers to the peace of God elsewhere, it occurs in contexts where strife has reared its ugly head (cf. Fee, 420). The peace of God is not simply what individuals might experience in their soul but is something that should reign over the community (Ro 14:19; 2 Co 13:11; Eph 4:3; Col 3:15; 1 Th 5:13). It keeps minds from becoming hardened (2 Co 3:14), blinded (2 Co 4:4), and outwitted by Satan (2 Co 2:11; 11:3) so that every thought remains captive to Christ (2 Co 10:5). It keeps hearts from losing heart (2 Co 4:1, 16; Eph 3:13) so that they do not stray from pure and sincere devotion to Christ.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 276–280). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 283–284). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 238–243). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 253). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 9 THE CHRISTIAN: CITIZEN OF HEAVEN LIVING ON EARTH

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

DANIEL 12:3

Let a man become enamored of Eternal Wisdom and set his heart to win her and he takes on himself a full-time, all-engaging pursuit! Thereafter his whole life will be filled with seekings and findings, self-repudiations, tough disciplines and daily dyings as he is being crucified unto the world and the world unto him.

The regenerated man has been inwardly separated from society as Israel was separated from Egypt at the crossing of the Red Sea. The Christian is a man of heaven temporarily living on earth. Though in spirit divided from the race of fallen men he must yet in the flesh live among them. In many things he is like them but in others he differs so radically from them that they cannot but see and resent it.

From the days of Cain and Abel the man of earth has punished the man of heaven for being different. The long history of persecution and martyrdom confirms this.

But, we must not get the impression that the Christian life is one of continuous conflict, one unbroken irritating struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.

A thousand times no!

The heart that learns to die with Christ soon knows the blessed experience of rising with Him, and all the world’s persecutions cannot still the high note of holy joy that springs up in the soul that has become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit![1]


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

April 9 Warning against External Righteousness

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:20

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were entirely concerned with a mere external observance of God’s law, giving almost no consideration to motives or attitude. In Matthew 23:25, Jesus gives a descriptive view of such useless religion: “You are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Because of that terrible condition, our Lord labeled the scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites.” They thought God would judge them only for what they did, not for what they thought.

But Jesus considers this sort of righteousness to be of the worst kind. Anybody who practices such “religion” is guilty of a large array of vile sins (Matt. 23:25–31). At another time Jesus warned the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).

Christ’s next teachings in this sermon would declare that God’s first concern is with people’s hearts. He condemns attitudes of anger, hatred, and lust, not merely their outward manifestations in murder and adultery (Matt. 5:22, 27–28). Similarly, anyone’s deeds of righteousness, such as prayer, giving, or fasting—if not done with a humble, loving attitude—are worthless (cf. 6:5–18). Hypocrisy and externalism cannot substitute for genuine righteousness.

ASK YOURSELF

Where has hypocrisy slipped into your life? Confess every example of it today—not the temptation itself, but rather every time you have gone on to mask pride and impurity with self-righteous appearances. Deal directly with these and repent, experiencing again the freedom of living whole, genuine lives of faith.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 108). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 9 Overcoming Through Suffering

They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Revelation 12:11

Christians are aliens and strangers in the world, waging war against fleshly lusts and being slandered and persecuted. As a result, we must expect to suffer in the name of the One who endured all manner of suffering for us (1 Pet. 2:11–25). The central thrust of Peter’s message is to remind us of the necessity of suffering. When in the midst of suffering we sin in thought, word, or deed by retaliating, we lose our victory and damage our testimony.

According to today’s verse, you overcome the insults, persecutions, and accusations of Satan by the blood of the Lamb, our Savior. That’s the power of God. You’re an overcomer when you don’t lose your testimony by retaliating during times of persecution, and when you don’t compromise—even to the point of death. Are you willing to stand strong in the suffering?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 114). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 9, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

the results of true wisdom

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (3:18)

This sentence is difficult to translate from the Greek, which literally reads something like, “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” In the New American Standard Bible the words seed whose have been added, since it is not fruit itself that is sown but rather the seed of the fruit. Seed represents godly wisdom, whose fruit is righteousness.

It is possible that James had in mind the idea of fruit being harvested and then, in part, becoming seed, which is resown in peace, as it were, and produces still more fruit, and so on, in the familiar cycle of growing and reaping.

In any case, the basic idea is clear: There is an inexorable causal relationship between godly wisdom, genuine righteousness, and peace. Godly wisdom produces a continuing cycle of righteousness, which is planted and harvested in a peaceful, harmonious relationship between God and His faithful people and between those people themselves. As Isaiah declared, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (Isa. 32:17).

As James continually emphasizes, the person who professes to be a Christian must prove it by his works, his daily living. If he is a true believer, he will possess his Lord’s own wisdom, and that wisdom will manifest itself in righteous, selfless, and peaceful living. He has the revelation of God’s wisdom in Scripture and the teacher and interpreter of God’s wisdom in the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul therefore prayed for the church at Ephesus, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). He later admonished them, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (5:15). “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food,” the apostle elsewhere assures us, “will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10), the righteousness “which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11).[1]


3:18 / James summarizes his argument with a proverb: Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest or righteousness. The harvest of goodness or righteousness is well known in biblical literature (e.g., Isa. 32:16–18; Amos 6:12). In other words, good deeds will be produced by the actions of peacemakers. Some people try to be righteous in such a way that it splits a community. The proverb instead points to goodness as the natural fruit of a peacemaker’s life, and that is James’ point: peacemaking, not a harsh “striving for the truth,” leads to righteousness. The repetitious sow in peace simply underlines the fact that peacemaking is an activity producing true, outward peace. James himself is portrayed as a peacemaker in Acts 15 and 21, but his teaching comes not from his personal preference but from Jesus, who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9). Conflict and combat will not produce justice; the way to justice is peace. Indeed, true peace in the community will be the result of doing justice to everyone.[2]


The harvest of righteousness (3:18)

The third chapter of James has proved to be a most concentrated and challenging piece of teaching. Every verse has had its point to make and each one of deep importance for our Chritian lives. Yet none surpasses in significance the final verse, to which we now turn. As we saw in the analysis (see p. 134), each of the two wisdoms brings about its own results and in the case of the wisdom from above it is this: The harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

There are two ways in which the words the harvest (lit. ‘fruit’) of righteousness may be understood. They can mean ‘the fruit which grows out of righteousness’, i.e. righteousness is the seed which bears the fruit. The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is the fruit which the Holy Spirit produces; the fruit of repentance is the evidence in our lives that we have truly repented. In the same way, the fruit of righteousness is the fruit righteousness bears. There is no strong case against understanding James’ words in this way. As in 2:23, righteousness is the fundamental reality of being right with God. In the immediately preceding verses (13, 17) James has been detailing the life which is directed by the heavenly wisdom. It is perhaps surprising that he should now describe it in a different way as the life right with God, but there is no reason why he should not. In 1:18, 26–27 he spoke of the life which proceeds out of the new birth, but in 2:1 he changed his terminology to speak rather of the life which grows out of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe this is his way of integrating his teaching. The life of wisdom is not a new thing or something different; it is just another way of talking about being right with God and of the life which, by good works, shows what a lovely thing being right with God is. If this is the correct way of understanding the harvest of righteousness, then harvest refers back to all the good things mentioned in verse 17, characterizing the heavenly wisdom. They are all the proper and natural outgrowth of being right with God.

On the other hand, the harvest of righteousness could equally mean ‘the fruit which consists of righteousness’. In this case righteousness is a summary description of the life approved by God—the same sort of use of the word as in 1:20 (see p. 65, above). But, once more, in the present context, if we were to ask what sort of fruit this might be, we could only look back to verse 17 for the answer or, with Sophie Laws, say broadly that the fruit of righteousness is wisdom.

Along each of these roads of interpretation we have been led, then, to the same broad conclusion. Either harvest is a summary of the covetable characteristics named in verse 17, with righteousness as the seed from which they grow, or else righteousness describes the life in which they come to harvest. Now a seed needs its own proper conditions for germination, growth and fruitage. However good the seed, it cannot thrive out of its environment. Even if it does not die, it will not properly grow; even if it grows, it will not properly bear. The conditions must be right. So it is also in this case. The crop demands the context for its true growth.

James takes his gardening metaphor seriously. Peace is the soil and those who make peace are the green-fingered gardeners. The only way in which this clear picture needs any further explanation is to say that our usage narrows unduly the meaning of those who make peace, for we call peacemakers those who have a ministry or gift of helping others to compose their differences. H. Alford is correct in seeing here those who ‘work peace’, or ‘peace-workers’. They are those whose whole life, ministry, influence and relationships are peace-creating. They are those who are out for peace in the fellowship, as Acts 15 and 21 reveal James himself to have been.

Once more we need to ask ourselves if we really believe this. Is it not too surprising? Do we find it recommended as a way of Christian growth in our churches? Certainly, the idea of Christian growth is not neglected by any manner of means: there is a suggestion here, an experience there, a crisis to pass through, a new touch from God to receive, a special blessing into which to enter. But how often do we hear of a harvest of righteousness sown in peace by those who prize and promote peace? How very important Christian fellowship is! A harmonious fellowship of believers is the soil out of which grows the whole life that is pleasing to God.[3]


3:18. Verse 18 concludes this section with a description of the effects of true wisdom. True wisdom results in a harvest of righteousness, that is, a conformity to God’s will. True wisdom also lets one experience peace, the enjoyment of harmonious relationships between human beings.

Over the years Christians in various churches have developed wide differences in their social practices. American Christians from the South sometimes oppose mixed swimming, but they may offend a Christian from the North by their cultivation and use of tobacco. Christians differ in their preferences for English versions of the Bible. Some regard the use of certain modern translations as sure signs of compromise and moral apostasy. European Christians live in a culture which more readily accepts the use of alcohol by believers. Many American Christians find it hard to tolerate this acceptance. American women almost never feel compelled to wear a covering for their heads to worship services. Among many eastern European Christian groups it is expected that women will wear a covering, even if it is only a scarf. Each of these circumstances demands a response of peace and consideration to prevent strife, factionalism, and petty quarreling.[4]


18. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

At the conclusion of this presentation, James seems to resort to a popular proverb of his day. This saying has a familiar sound. It reminds us of similar phrases in the prophetical books of the Old Testament, the words of Jesus, and the epistles of the New Testament. Here are a few texts:

The fruit of righteousness will be peace;

the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

[Isa. 32:17]

But you have turned justice into poison

and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness. [Amos 6:12]

“Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.” [Matt. 5:9]

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. [2 Cor. 9:10]

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. [Heb. 12:11]

What is the work of peacemakers? Simply put, they are the ones who seek to bring quarreling parties together to achieve harmony and peace. But, I hasten to add, they also practice peace by striving to live in peace with all people (Rom. 12:18). In short, they will do everything in their power to avoid strife and promote peace.

A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Translations and many commentaries provide variations in wording. Some translators understand the phrase a harvest of righteousness to mean “a harvest consisting of righteousness.” The terms harvest and righteousness, then, are synonymous. Others see it differently and say that the phrase means “a harvest produced by righteousness.” Here is a representative translation: “And the harvest, which righteousness yields to the peacemakers, comes from a sowing in peace.”

We would expect the writer to say that peacemakers sow peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. But he says the exact opposite: righteousness sown in peace yields a harvest of righteousness. In other words, what is sown is also reaped. We ought not to fault James for inaccuracies when in common parlance we do exactly the same. In the spring of the year a gardener may say, “I planted watermelons last week.” He means to say that he sowed the seed in springtime but hopes to harvest the fruit in summer.

Peacemakers sow and harvest righteousness in peace. In the context of James’s discussions on heavenly versus earthly wisdom this means that “righteousness cannot be produced in the climate of bitterness and self-seeking. Righteousness will grow only in a climate of peace.”[5]


3:18 James closes the chapter with the words, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” This verse is a connecting link between what we have been discussing and what is to follow. We have just learned that true wisdom is peace-loving. In the next chapter we find conflict among God’s people. Here we are reminded that life is like the farming process. We have the farmer (the wise man who is a peacemaker); the climate (peace); and the harvest (righteousness). The farmer wants to raise a harvest of righteousness. Can this be done in an atmosphere of quarrels and bickering? No, the sowing must take place under peaceful conditions. It must be done by those who are of a peaceful disposition. A harvest of uprightness will be produced in their own lives and in the lives of those to whom they minister.

Once again James has put our faith on trial, this time with regard to the type of wisdom we manifest in our everyday life. We must ask ourselves—“Do I respect the proud men of the world more than the humble believer in the Lord Jesus?” “Do I serve the Lord without caring who gets the credit?” “Or do I sometimes use questionable means in order to get good results?” “Am I guilty of flattery in order to influence people?” “Do I harbor jealousy and resentment in my heart?” “Do I resort to sarcasm and unkind remarks?” “Am I pure in thought, in speech, in morals?”[6]


3:18 This section, “slow to speak” (1:19), has focused around the uncontrolled tongue. Inner qualities are what season one’s speech, and here peace is emphasized in two ways: (1) righteousness is sown, that is, it has its beginnings in peaceful conditions, not envy and self-seeking (v. 16); and (2) righteousness appears in those who practice peace. The glaring blemish of evangelical churches is inner turmoil and bickering, yet Christian living depends upon peace.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 180–181). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (p. 91). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Motyer, J. A. (1985). The message of James: the tests of faith (pp. 136–138). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, p. 308). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 123–124). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2235). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1669). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.